Wellington Phoenix struggle through loss to Melbourne City


Melbourne City's Ritchie de Laet celebrates scoring the opening goal against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

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Melbourne City’s Ritchie de Laet celebrates scoring the opening goal against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

Melbourne City have condemned the Wellington Phoenix to their second-straight defeat with a dominant performance on Friday night.

Goals in either half to Ritchie de Laet and Bruno Fornaroli were the highlights of comfortable night for City at AAMI Park in Melbourne, while the Phoenix would be left frustrated by a lack of impetus and a mildly contentious penalty no-call.

The Phoenix’s defence looked shaky from early on, with mistakes down either flank leading to good City chances.

Melbourne City's Ritchie de Laet celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

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Melbourne City’s Ritchie de Laet celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

One such mistake led to City taking the lead in the ninth minute.

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Right wing back Louis Fenton miskicked a clearance, allowing Lachlan Wales down the left side to the byline. He slid a long square ball to de Laet outside the box, who fired a first-time thunderbolt from 25 yards low and to the left of a flailing Filip Kurto in the Phoenix goal. 

Wellington Phoenix defender Steven Taylor makes a sliding challenge on Friday.

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Wellington Phoenix defender Steven Taylor makes a sliding challenge on Friday.

De Laet almost doubled their lead in the 37th minute when hitting a sharp left-foot volley from the penalty spot which was well saved by Kurto. 

Between those two efforts from the City wing back, the home side had been in control.

Wellington didn’t see much of the ball – just 33 per cent in the first half, completing only 103 passes. Of more concern than their lack of ball was when they did have it, they were unable to get any meaningful penetration through City’s midfield or defence.

Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli shows his frustration after missing a chance against the Wellington Phoenix.

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Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli shows his frustration after missing a chance against the Wellington Phoenix.

City had another great chance in the 42nd minute. First, Wales put Bruno Fornaroli through one-on-one, but Kurto saved well. The follow up fell to Florin Berenguer, but his shot was cleared off the line by Dylan Fox as the Phoenix went into halftime fortunate to only be down by one goal. 

The Phoenix made a positive start to the second half, but City were soon back in control and ahead by two in the 59th minute when Fornaroli sent a curling finish into the top-right corner from the edge of the box.

The Phoenix had two big moments over a frenetic two minutes.

They looked like they would be granted a lifeline in the 67th minute when the Video Assistant Referee advised referee Adam Fielding to check where he had adjudged a City defender to have handled the ball near the edge of the box. Fielding had originally said it was just outside the area, but, after looking at the replay, decided it wasn’t even a handball as the arm was tucked in by the defender’s chest.

Two minutes later, David Williams sprung the City offside trap, went past City goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, but his touch was too heavy and he could only send his attempted cross to Krishna out for a goalkick with an open goal begging.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan took off centre back and captain Andrew Durante for winger Max Burgess at that point in an attempt to get more players forward.

He then handed Polish midfielder Michal Kopczynski an A-League debut, coming on for Sarpreet Singh, and the Phoenix looked better thereafter, but they were inclined to do so as City sat back and played it safe to secure the win.

The loss extended the Phoenix’s miserable away run against Melbourne. They haven’t beaten City in Melbourne since December 2013, with two draws followed by six consecutive losses since then.

The failure to fire in front of goal means the Phoenix have gone three games without scoring and they are yet to score from open play in any of their four games this season (their 2-1 round one win featured an own goal and a tap-in directly following a penalty attempt).

They had one shot on target in this match.

AT A GLANCE

Melbourne City 2 (Ritchie De Laet 9′, Bruno Fornaroli 59′) Wellington Phoenix 0. HT: 1-0



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