‘Nix & Victory share spoils in Liberty A-League after wild four-goal first half

Check out the highlights from a thrilling Liberty A-League match between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory.

Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their top-four Liberty A-League battle.

All four goals were scored in the opening half as the third-placed Phoenix and fourth-placed Victory traded goals in a thrilling first 45 minutes at Jerry Collins Stadium on Sunday.

Victory captain Kayla Morrison broke the deadlock in the 15th minute, only for Kate Taylor to restore parity two minutes later.

The Phoenix hit the front for the first time thanks to Emma Main’s maiden Liberty A-League strike but Kurea Okino put the visitors back on level terms in the 37th minute.

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Mariana Speckmaier had a golden chance to snatch victory with five minutes remaining, only to blaze over the crossbar.

Victory were lively from the opening whistle and chances mounted up inside the opening 10 minutes.

Beattie Goad’s “wand of a left foot” was on show in windy conditions as she whipped in an inch-perfect cross to find in-form Rachel Lowe in the eighth minute, however, her header flashed wise of the post.

Moments later, Victory came close again. This time Okino saw the ball drop to her feet but she was unable to find a way past Phoenix goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

The visitors, though, were not to be denied in the 15th minute. Morrison headed home Goad’s corner to bag her second goal of the season.

However, Victory’s lead was short-lived. The Phoenix hit back immediately through Taylor after Speckmaier headed a ball across the six-yard box for her teammate to score from the goal line. Victory were convinced the ball had gone out of play in the build-up but it stood.

Wellington were ahead seven minutes later – Kelli Brown’s long-range thunderbolt rattled the woodwork but it fell to Main, who converted the rebound in an unforgettable moment.

Victory ensured they entered half-time on level terms when Okino equalised eight minutes prior to the interval. Matildas star Elise Kellond-Knight picked out the Japanese forward with a superb bass and the latter got in ahead of her opponent, rounded the keeper and finished into the net.

After the four-goal opening half, it was a much tighter affair in the second 45 minutes as opportunities dried up.

There were a couple of chances for Victory during the closing stages, but the best opportunity fell to Wellington’s Speckmaier in the final five minutes.

The Venezuela international broke clear in a one-v-one situation, however, she fired her shot over the crossbar.

The Talking Point

Melbourne Victory carried a four-match unbeaten streak into Sunday’s contest.

The title hopefuls had beaten Adelaide United, Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners, while playing out a four-goal thriller against Perth Glory.

Victory had also never lost to Wellington in the history of the competition.

Away from home in Round 7, Victory extended their undefeated run to five matches, while also making it four matches without defeat to the ‘Nix.

The Star

Step forward Okino.

The 2023 NPLW VIC Golden Boot winner found the back of the net for Victory.

After scoring against the Mariners last time out, Okino bagged the leveller to secure a point for Jeff Hopkins’ side.

She was also a threat throughout the contest inside the penalty area.

What it means

The result didn’t impact the positions in the standings.

Wellington are third and three points adrift of league-leading Perth Glory ahead their trip to Adelaide on December 16.

Victory, who are fourth and five points off the pace, host Canberra United on December 16.