History makers at Viking Park!
Wellington Phoenix are Liberty A-League winners for the very first time, coming away with a 3-0 victory over Canberra United on Friday night.
The incredible post-match scenes have been well-earned by a young side on the road and away from home all season long.
Meanwhile in the Isuzu UTE A-League, A comprehensive Melbourne City display saw the reigning champions ease to a 3-1 win over the Wanderers at CommBank Stadium.
A first-half Mathew Leckie brace put City in cruise control before Berenguer put a touch of class onto his side’s third. Petratos made up some ground for the Wanderers with a goal from the spot but that’s how the score remained until full-time.
KEEPUP’s live feed is split into reaction and game-by-game coverage:
- Canberra United 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
Liberty A-League, Viking Park. MATCH REPORT
- Western Sydney Wanderers 1-3 Melbourne City
Isuzu UTE A-League, CommBank Stadium. MATCH REPORT
‘Finally! Finally, we got there’ – The on-field reaction from a magic night at Viking Park
Emotions flowed as the final whistle blew on an historic night in Wellington Phoenix history.
Nursing a 1-0 lead over Canberra United at half-time, the Phoenix pressed on in the second 45, turning on the style whilst putting two more goals on the board to notch an emphatic 3-0 win – the very first three-point display in the club’s short Liberty A-League history.
The story of Wellington’s season has been one of trials and tribulations, with the mental and physical fortitude of an inexperienced squad put to the test far from home.
But on Friday night, the ‘Nix had their moment. A moment of vindication for a body of work over the course of the season which will warn the rest of the league of what’s to come in future Liberty A-League campaigns: a settled ‘Nix squad on home soil, with the experience of the 2021/22 season behind them, will be a sight to behold.
“I’m so happy for the win, so happy. It think it’s so well deserved,” goalscorer Grace Jale told Paramount+ post-match. “Finally! Finally we got there.”
“It’s huge: first win, history… we went into half-time winning and finally kept a lead, and got a couple more in the second half. I’m so stoked.”
Head coach Gemma Lewis targeted her side’s clash with Canberra as a genuine opportunity to notch the club’s maiden league victory, making note of the opportunity in her midweek press conference leading into the trip to Viking Park.
Her prediction was vindicated by the on-field performance. It’s a moment the ‘Nix boss will savour, but as the dust settles in the days to come Lewis says she will use this display as a marker to encourage her squad on to bigger and better things as the 2021/22 season draws to a close.
“I feel like we’ve had moments we should’ve probably taken a result before, and it hasn’t really gone our way,” Lewis said. “Today I was so impressed with the girls, to have that level of discipline to not drop off and put in a more consistent performance.
“I don’t even know, to be honest, how to put it into words. I think you could see the girls’ reactions when the final whistle went, even now, even without reflecting on it.
“We’ve worked so hard, under harsh circumstances being away from home, short pre-season, a majority of teenagers in the group and the’ve worked so hard for us and done everything we’ve asked of them, so they’ve really earned this.
Lewis added: “We definitely want to (build on this result) .
“Even though we talked about wanting to get this win against Canberra, for us we’ve been building to it, so we’ve got this win and we want to carry on building, so we want to build that consistency, we want to improve game on game which means we also want to get results form that as well, and turn those good performances into points on the table.”
Georgievski – Wanderers ‘feeling the full wrath’ of defensive errors
Former Western Sydney defender Daniel Georgievski says the Wanderers are doing themselves no favours in the Isuzu UTE A-League at present with defensive blunders costing the struggling side valuable points.
Head coach Mark Rudan has been at the helm for three games now. A 1-0 win over Perth Glory kick-started the new era in style, showing signs of an instant revival; but consecutive losses to Western United and Melbourne City suggest the early improvement may have been a false dawn for a club looking to lift under their new boss.
The Wanderers shipped three goals to City on Friday night, with Socceroo Mathew Leckie bagging a first-half brace and Florin Berenguer putting the finishing touch on a City display which benefited largely from a series of defensive lapses from the home side.
“As well as we are saying Melbourne City played tonight, I personally believe they were just more mistakes from the Wanderers,” Georgievski said on the Paramount+ post-game show.
“Leckie’s (first) goal was great (but) this second one was just poor, poor defending for the Wanderers. The first 35 minutes they played well, but I think (for the first time in) the post-Robinson era, those mistakes are coming back to haunt Wanderers. I think Mark Rudan right now is actually feeling the full wrath of that.
“You can see how easily they’re conceding goals, and the majority of them are mistakes.”
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE: CANBERRA UNITED V WELLINGTON PHOENIX
FULL-TIME: CANBERRA UNITED 0-3 WELLINGTON PHOENIX
MATCH REPORT: PHOENIX FINALLY FLY IN FIRST ALW WIN
GOAL! ‘Nix on the brink of history (9.05pm AEDT)
An Ally Haran own goal has put the hosts three goals down at Viking Park, as Wellington storm toward a club-first Liberty A-League win.
Ava Pritchard sent the ball toward goal with a shot off target which took a cruel deflection off Haran on its way over the line. You can see what it means to the ‘Nix players, who have celebrated all of their three goals with sheer and utter jubilation.
GOAL! Jale puts ‘Nix on the cusp of first win (8.57pm AEDT)
A ruthless Phoenix counter attack has seen the ‘Nix take a two-goal lead at Viking Park.
Knott slipped Jale in behind the Canberra defence near the halfway line and the Wellington striker made no mistake, tearing into the box and slipping the ball under Chloe Lincoln to double the advantage.
Wellington have 40 minutes to play as they hunt for an historic result -but Canberra love a comeback this season. This will be an unmissable end to the second half.
GOAL! Knott puts the ‘Nix ahead in Canberra (8.30pm AEDT)
Scoring goals for a good cause.
Chloe Knott has opened the scoring for the ‘Nix – a goal which puts her side on track for a maiden league victory whilst raising money for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
The Wellington star made a special pledge which inspired her to ‘bang some in’ between now and the end of the season – and it’s paying dividends thus far at Viking Park.
READ MORE BELOW:
A season-ending injury to first-choice Canberra keeper Keeley Richards has given a chance to 17-year-old Chloe Lincoln to step into the spotlight, with backup goalkeeper Beth Mason Jones also on the sideline after an injury of her own in late 2021.
The visitors bring Grace Wisnewski back into the starting XI after her one-game absence. It was an elective break for Wisnewski to prioritise her mental health – and seeing the teenage midfielder return to the Phoenix fold is a happy sight for all watching on.
ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS V MELBOURNE CITY
FULL-TIME: WANDERERS 1-3 CITY
Petratos from the spot give Wanderers slim chance (9.25pm AEDT)
A handball from Curtis Good in the box earned Western Sydney a penalty, and after a lengthy VAR check the original decision stood, allowing Petratos to plant the ball on the spot and send the ball off the post and in.
It’s 3-1 with 10 minutes to play – a comeback is possible, but the home side still have plenty to do if they wish to steal a point tonight.
Too easy for slick Berenguer as City put Wanderers in peril (9.11pm AEDT)
It’s 3-0 to City at CommBank Stadium after a curling Florin Berenguer strike from the edge of the box nestled perfectly into the top-right corner of Mejías’ goal.
The visitors are in control and in command, showing the true potential of an attack brimming with talent. The Wanderers, meanwhile are in all sorts – and with more than 20 minutes to play City could make matters worse for Mark Rudan’s side.
Maclaren blunders the spot kick as Wanderers almost make City pay (9.05pm AEDT)
A J-Mac penalty is so often a near certainty – but tonight the Socceroos spearhead made an uncharacteristic mistake from the spot.
His strike wide of the left-hand goalpost prevented the Wanderers from conceding a third; a Keijiro Ogawa shot down the other end less than a minute later almost compiled the pain for City, but Tom Glover was once again up to preventing the home side from finding the back of the net.
GOAL! Leckie has another at CommBank Stadium (8.30pm AEDT)
City are two goals to the good after a second headed goal from Leckie in the first half. The Wanderers defence is struggling to match the energy of the City attack, caught flat-footed as Leckie attacked the ball the hardest for the second time in the first half to nab a well-deserved brace.
GOAL! Leckie gets two in two as City go ahead (8.22pm AEDT)
Just days after scoring his first Isuzu UTE A-League goal in City colours, Leckie is back on the scoresheet in Wanderland.
His powerful header came with virtually no pace on a floated delivery from Aiden O’Neill. A sleepy Wanderers defence were caught on their heels by the Socceroos forward who leapt toward the ground to add speed on his headed attempt which flew past Mejías into the back of the net.
Jenkinson close to second Isuzu UTE A-League goal (8.10pm AEDT)
Carl Jenkinson is operating down the right side of City’s defence this evening in place of Scott Galloway – and the former Arsenal defender had the best chance for his side through 25 minutes, bombing down the flank to receive a pass laid into the box by Jamie Maclaren.
But Tomas Mejías wore the shot on the front of his colourful goalkeeping kit to thwart the danger.
KICK-OFF: Wanderers put City under early pressure (7.50pm AEDT)
Quick-fire shots from Dimitri Petratos and Keanu Baccus have caused early problems for City, with goalkeeper Tom Glover’s save from Petratos’ strike encouraging Baccus to storm into the box and blast a strike over the crossbar.
Mathew Leckie’s first league goal in City colours came in a 4-2 win over Newcastle Jets last time out, with fellow Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren bagging a brace to take his tally to eight goals scored in his last seven games for both club and country.
Combining with Andrew Nabbout in the final third, City’s strike trio as a combined force have failed to live up to their billing to date this season. They may have finally clicked at the least convenient time for a Western Sydney outfit looking to garner confidence under new boss Mark Rudan.