Wellington Phoenix have put a tumultuous week behind them in impressive fashion, overpowering the Central Coast Mariners 3-0 as the Hyundai A-League came to Waikato Stadium for the first time on Saturday.
With Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick standing down during the week Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham took charge of the home side and they only had to wait 90 seconds to see their side go in front.
A shot from Kosta Barbarouses took a deflection off Hamish Watson to open the scoring, with Vince Lia doubling his side’s advantage midway through the second stanza with a goal of the season contender.
Roly Bonevacia came close to netting a long range stunner of his own as the Phoenix continued to dominate proceedings but was denied by a fantastic save from Mariners keeper Ivan Necevski.
Instead the home side put an exclamation point on the result in the dying seconds of injury time as they went the length of the field on the counter, with Roy Krishna applying the finish.
The three points sees Wellington leapfrog Central Coast into seventh place, still with a game in hand, with both sides at home next weekend.
1-0 Wellington Phoenix: Hamish Watson, 2’
Barbarouses was afforded too much space as he dribbled towards goal, inviting a shot from outside the box that took a deflection off Watson before finding the back of the net.
2-0 Wellington Phoenix: Vince Lia, 66’
A Phoenix free-kick didn’t make it past the wall, with the ball rebounding to Lia who blazed a long range shot into the top corner, sparking wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.
3-0 Wellington Phoenix: Roy Krishna, 90+4’
The Mariners almost grabbed a late consolation following a scramble in the box, instead the home launched a length of the field counter-attack that saw Roy Krishna finish a fine team goal.
- Waikato Stadium became the seventh different venue the Phoenix have played a home match at away from Wellington; they’ve been beaten just twice across these 17 matches.
- The result was the first time the Phoenix have recorded back-to-back home wins in over a year (Rd 9, 2015/16).
Central Coast’s stand-in captain Storm Roux had to be substituted before the break with an ankle injury, replaced by Michael Neill.
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