Wanderers Run Riot In Windy Wellington


A ruthlessly executed second half saw the NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers beat the Wellington Phoenix into submission to score an impressive 2-0 win at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

A ruthlessly executed second half saw the NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers beat the Wellington Phoenix into submission to score an impressive 2-0 win at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Total domination of the midfield by Aaron Mooy, Mateo Poljak and Iacopo La Rocca in the second stanza set up a powerful performance that will leave the three teams above them on the ladder feeling nervous.

Phoenix had no answer to the strength and skill of the Wanderers when they starved them of possession, sapped their energy and then put them away with two good goals.

The score flattered the hosts who were lucky to hold on through wave after wave of Wanderers attack, many of the raids launched with commanding fluency and delightful interplay.

The Wanderers look far more comfortable in the windy and tricky conditions this time around at Westpac Stadium and even used them to their advantage with variety in their aerial attack.

Central defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley scored his first goal for the new team with a spectacular diving header in the 71st minute after a dangerous low and curling cross from Mooy.

Striker Labinot Haliti made the most of one of his few starts in recent times with a busy game.

He was rewarded with a tap-in goal after overwhelming pressure on the Phoenix defence saw him virtually played onto goal by a blunder by Ben Sigmund in the 82nd minute.

It was another piece of mastery by coach Tony Popovic who rested marquee player Shinji Ono on the bench for 75 minutes, saving him up for the battles ahead.

The game started willingly with both teams keen to pursue their chances on the counter.

Phoenix-s Belgian striker Stein Huysegems had a solid chance in the 6th minute with a scorching run into the box, only to be shut down by centre back pairing Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley in a classic sandwich movement.

His shot ended up being a simple save for Ante Covic.

Youssouf Hersi looked the most dangerous for the visitors causing plenty of problems wide on the right.

Several darting runs promised more and his fancy footwork and the use of his body, at one stage he passed the ball with his back, entertained the small shivering crowd.

In the 13th minute, Huysegems found himself loose in the box but not quite close enough to a dangerous dipping cross in the wind from the left with an open goal in front of him.

The Wanderers looked the most fluent with the ball with several impressive passing motions.

In the 18th minute, a sweeping sequence of ball movement involving Poljak, Mark Bridge, Hersi and Haliti deserved better.

In the 22nd minute the home team had the best chance of the half.

Huysegems- right foot strike struck the woodwork high on the right after a nice back pass back by Louis Fenton.

Fenton was again in the thick of it a few minutes later when he beat D-Apuzzo three times and let off a worthwhile strike.

Then the Wanderers started to get on top.

Several searching crosses by Mooy, La Rocca and Hersi failed to count but tested the Phoenix defence.

The most controversial moment of the first half happened in the final 20 seconds.

Haliti received the ball through a back pass from Hersi on the edge of the box.

As he prepared to shoot he was poleaxed by a flying tackle from defender Sigmund from behind.

The reckless challenge missed the ball completely.

It was a clear foul and either a penalty or a free kick and a howling mistake by referee Shaun Evans.

The Wanderers came out of the sheds looking ten feet tall.

In the 46th minute Haliti fired a good left shot to force a neat save from Mark Paston with a stretching right hand.

Two minutes later Beauchamp showed his pace by matching the dangerous Huysegems for 40m then taking the ball on the edge of the box with a sweeping tackle.

The Wanderers were asserting themselves all over the park and totally dominated possession.

Bridge had a great chance in the 54th minute, chesting a ball for control before firing a powerful short straight at Paston who was beginning to look stressed.

Less than a minute later Haliti was played into the box but sprayed his shot left and into the side netting.

La Rocca made a direct run on goal only to spray high and wide.

Bridge played through by D-Apuzzo and wasted a left strike with two men in the box.

It was becoming a procession.
The last gasp of life from Wellington came in the form of some frustrated and cheap challenges and a running battle between Mooy and Vince Lia and Dani Sanchez saw the yellow card produced after some pushing and shoving.

But the hosts were finally put to the sword when a wonderful low and curling cross found its way onto the head of a diving Topor-Stanley and it powered through the hand of Paston for the first goal and the defender-s fifth in his 148-game career.

Haliti-s tap-in after Ben Sigmund knocked a long ball past his keeper and into the path of the charging striker was the result of a totally powerful team performance.

The Wanderers’ next home game is against Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday, January 26 at 7.45pm.