Wellington Phoenix beat Brisbane Roar 1-0 but Rufer red-carded

The Wellington Phoenix’s 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar in the A-League has come at a cost, with Phoenix captain Alex Rufer sent off in the closing stages.

The Phoenix are now six points clear at the top of the table, but will be left with plenty to ponder after the controversial finish to the match.

With 10 minutes to go, the influential Phoenix leader was caught in a collision with Brisbane player Henry Hore.

The referee handed Rufer a red card after he appeared to use his studs to step on Hore as he lay on the ground – while the Phoenix skipper tried to free the ball.

After a lengthy delay and a number of replays, the video referee handed the Phoenix captain the bombshell decision.

Rufer – who had returned from All Whites duty in Cairo the day before the game – had his marching orders.

While the Wellington side’s title push remains on track, Rufer will miss the pivotal top-of-the-table showdown against the Central Coast Mariners next weekend.

That game will help determine the side’s ranking in the run into the A-League finals.

In a rip-roaring start for the home side at Sky Stadium, the Phoenix opened the scoring inside the first two minutes with Brisbane barely touching the ball.

Sam Sutton, in for the injured Tim Payne, made his mark as he sped down the left flank putting the ball in the box for Bozhadir Kraev to find the net.

The Bulgarian international has six goals for the season.

The Phoenix celebrate their win during the A-League - Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar FC at Sky Stadium, Wellington on the 31 March 2024. © Copyright image by Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz

Brisbane’s best chance of the opening half came through Keegan Jelacic who won the ball at the top of the box before beating his marker and forcing Alex Paulsen into a strong save.

The Wellington keeper brilliantly tipped it over the crossbar.

Brisbane continued to push for the equaliser as they dominated possession in the second half.

That led Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano to turn to his bench with Ben Old sparking the Wellington attack and combining with Kosta Barbarouses for a goal, which was ruled out with an offside call.

After the match, experienced Phoenix campaigner Scott Wootton told SkySport he disagreed with the red card.

“Not for me really – you’ve got to use common sense in these situations,” Wootton said.

“He’s [Hore’s] got the ball stuck between his legs; Rufer stood on top of him after the fair tackle.

“His momentum is obviously going to take him down and once he kicked the ball through his legs the only way his foot was going to go was down and onto his body.

“Maybe the studs were showing slightly so I can understand why it was given, but it’s not a red card for me.”

Brisbane captain Tom Aldred told SkySport the red card was a big moment in the game.

“In all fairness to their boy, when you slow things down it makes it look worse,” Aldred said.

“It happened really quickly – I don’t know, I got a kick in the face, maybe it’s a red, maybe it’s not.

“They take time to make [VAR] decisions and to be honest you don’t know what decision they’re going to make.

“My view on that is that I’d have to see it again.”

Aldred felt Brisbane were pushing for the equaliser.

“I felt today the performance was good – there were shots on target, [we did] everything to score goals.

“It wasn’t to be. It was frustrating, a really frustrating day.”

The Phoenix have 46 points at the top of the A-League ladder ahead of second-placed Central Coast, with a game in hand, on 40 points.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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