Boca scalp for Phoenix

Goals from Dylan Macallister and Andrew Durante helped Wellington Phoenix end its pre-season campaign on a winning note with a 2-1 victory against Boca Juniors.

Goals from Dylan Macallister and Andrew Durante helped Wellington Phoenix end its pre-season campaign on a winning note with a 2-1 victory against Boca Juniors.

Coach Ricki Herbert started all his All Whites bar the injured Tony Lochhead in a strong line-up that was more than a match for the South Americans in a physical, and often spiteful, match that saw referee Jamie Cross dish out seven yellow cards and sent Boca defender Christian Cellay off in the 73rd minute after an altercation with Paul Ifill.

Macallister’s goal midway through the first half came after livewire Boca midfielder Marcelo Canete had squandered a good opportunity.

Pablo Mouche then wasted two further opportunities to leave the visitors trailing 1-0 at the break.

That became 2-0 when Durante rose above the Boca defence to head home at the back post with just over an hour gone.

Cellay, who was booked in the first half for a crude challenge on Ifill, then saw red before Durante gave the visitors a helping hand when he got a foot to a cross from Orlando Gaona Lugo and saw it go in off the post.

Chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes at a rain-sodden and windy Westpac Stadium.

Boca started the brighter of the two sides with playmaker Marcelo Canete in the thick of the opening exchanges.

He should have put the Argentinians 1-0 up inside the first 10 minutes but after beating Durante then stepping past Tim Brown he dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post with Mark Paston beaten.

Five minutes later and Leandro Marin and Canete combined well to set up Mouche but he fired his shot straight at the Wellington goalkeeper.

At the other end Javier Garcia had barely been called into action as Paul Ifill had a long range speculator go well wide and high.

The Phoenix though began to settle and started to look more assured on the ball as they pressed forward looking for the opening goal.

As the pressure mounted on the South Americans, who looked uncomfortable at times with the physical nature of the Phoenix play, Cellay found himself booked in the 20th minute for his challenge on Ifill.

Then in the 24th minute the Phoenix took the lead. Ifill sent a long cross out to Leo Bertos wide on the right, he beat his man, found Chris Greenacre who slid the ball to Macallister and he toed home past a prone Garcia.

It was Macallister’s second goal in three pre-season games since joining the Phoenix in the off-season.

A break-out by Boca from a Bertos corner that was cleared by Juan Insaurralde saw Lucas Viatri put Mouche clear in the 28th minute but again the striker’s radar was off, this time the ball flashing past the right-hand post.

The match began to turn increasingly spiteful. Durante copped an elbow to the face from Jesus Mendez that was unseen by referee Jamie Cross, Brown, fired up in his first start since undergoing surgery on a fractured shoulder in May, then got into a push and shove with Viatri and was lucky not to get booked for a challenge on Canete.

But from the resulting free-kick, just before half-time, Mouche could only curl his shot wide.

Greenacre had an early chance in the second half to put the Phoenix two goals clear but was off-target with a header after good long ball in from Troy Hearfield.

The match then turned a bit ugly. Viatri was booked for preventing Durante from taking a free-kick, then Cross finally ran out of patience with Brown.

Mendez was next in the book for his challenge on Brown before Insaurralde was cautioned for an altercation with Hearfield.

The Phoenix extended its lead in the 61st minute thanks to Durante’s header – just his second goal for the club – before Boca were reduced to 10 men with the sending off of Cellay after his tangle with Ifill who was also booked.

The final 20 minutes were scrappy as the coaches continued to introduce players off the bench and in the end it was Durante who had the final say as he found the back of his own net.