Football: Phoenix draw A-League semi-final opener against Melbourne Victory

The Wellington Phoenix have drawn nil-all with Melbourne Victory in their first leg A-League semi-final match in Melbourne.

Melbourne dominated possession and territory, but the Phoenix defence – as it has been throughout the season – was well-organised and remained structured.

The two sides had met three times in the regular season – all three closely fought affairs with two 1-all draws and the Phoenix snatching a 1-nil victory in the other, with a stoppage-time winner.

The Phoenix had the better of the opening 10 minutes, but the home side worked their way into the match and finished with statistical superiority on both possession and shots on goal. But Melbourne couldn’t make it count most where it mattered – the scoreboard.

The Phoenix survived a frantic final 10 minutes – being tested numerous times defensively – but remained well-structured, ensuring a clean sheet.

Melbourne Victory had 19 shots on goal – five of those on target – compared to the Wellington Phoenix’s six, none of which were recorded as on target.

The two sides head to Wellington on Saturday for the second leg of the tie, with the winner advancing to the A-League final.

Phoenix skipper Alex Rufer reacts at the final whistle.

Phoenix skipper Alex Rufer doesn’t believe they are favourites heading into the second leg at home, but was “pretty satisfied” with their effort.

In the post-match interview, he said the Phoenix would have “to be a lot better with the ball, be a lot braver but I’m very proud of the team, we’ll take a draw … and move on”.

“We’ve never won anything, so we have that hunger to do that. But there are a lot of steps to take … and we need to stay focused on the job at hand – and that’s winning on Saturday.”

Melbourne captain Roderick Miranda conceded they struggled to break down the Phoenix defence.

“They have showed throughout the season they are a difficult team to beat. They are really comfortable defending deep.

“We need to have greater patience – we had it in the first half, but in the second half the players felt a little bit anxious.

“That’s normal – it’s semi-final .. but it’s zero-zero and everything is still open for the second leg.”

Miranda felt his side took too long to shoot when they were in goal-scoring positions and cited this as an area they must improve on.

“But they [the Phoenix] will need to play a little bit further up [the field] in the next game, so maybe we will get more chances to break them down.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button