The Wellington Phoenix have escaped with an unlikely victory after enduring two red cards and two missed penalties by Adam Le Fondre.
Described as one of the craziest games in A-Leagues history, the Wellington Pheonix have put on a clutch performance to return to New Zealand with three points. The victory is the first time Ufuk Talay has beaten Sydney FC since taking charge as head coach.
While Talay celebrates and tastes the spoils of victory, more pressure has been put on the opposing coach Steve Corica. The defeat on Saturday is Sydney’s third loss in four games as it slowly moves down the ladder out of sixth place.
The dramatic game ended with Wellington finishing with nine men on the field. In the final 20 minutes of the game, referee Shaun Evans sent both Bozhidar Kraev and Nicholas Pennington off the field with red cards. The decisions were seen as controversial by Talay and fans alike.
The main controversy occurred when the second red card was handed out. Pennington earnt a straight red card after an altercation with Max Burgess. However, while he was awarded a red, Burgess only received a yellow card for the same exact thing.
“Do we want to play with nine men every game? No, we don’t but in this case, we’ve had to deal with this situation and the boys came up trumps,” Talay said post-match.
“I thought the boys showed fantastic character to get through that (drama) and we walked away with the three points.”
Wellington opened up the game 10 minutes in. Polish striker Oskar Zawade added another goal to his season tally after an error by Socceroo Andrew Redmayne. This extended Sydney’s streak of being unable to keep a clean sheet against inter-state clubs to ten consecutive games.
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Closing out the game, it seemed as if the footballing gods were not done with the Sky Blues. Sydney was awarded back-to-back penalties. The first came from a handball by Pheonix defender Tim Payne.
The ball looked as if it hit the back of Payne, but the referee made up his mind and granted the penalty. Despite the controversial decision, goalkeeper Oli Sail had no trouble diving to his left to save the ball. However, the night wouldn’t be over for Sail and the Phoenix.
Just after saving a penalty kick, another handball was spotted by Callan Elliot. Ex-Premier League forward Adam Le Fondre finally had a chance to redeem himself in front of the home fans. Although, it was not to be as Le Fondre skied the ball over the crossbar.
While the Phoenix celebrated, it was a night to forget for Le Fondre, missing consecutive penalties. In spite of that, all eyes will be on Steve Corica in the coming days, as his time as head coach may be numbered.
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