LISTEN TO DAVID DOME TALK WITH D'ARCY AND GORAN ABOVE
Sydney FC 1
Wellington Phoenix 3
The Phoenix produced one of the best away results of their 12-year history with a 3-1 win in Sydney.
Six days after being denied a deserved victory against unbeaten leaders Perth in a match marred by an unwarranted red card, Wellington improved further in an excellent display across the Tasman.
The Phoenix were sharper, worked harder and played with greater desperation to upset the odds and add to hopes that an unexpected transformation is under way.
A couple of statistics underline the notable nature of this win — the Phoenix had lost seven and drawn one of their last eight games against Sydney; they won just one away game last season and had not even scored an away goal this season before tonight.
The result was particularly sweet for Phoenix coach Mark Rudan, an A-League champion with Sydney FC who played alongside several of tonight's opposition staff, including coach Steve Corica.
On the back of a dire three-match losing run, Rudan successfully instilled confidence into his side last week for the game against Perth. The focus this week was on being brave and wanting the ball, and Wellington delivered again.
After taking six games to score their first goal from open play, the Phoenix were almost unrecognisable from last month's incarnation. Roy Krishna scored a tidy brace and thrived on the service provided by his fellow attackers, with the likes of Sarpreet Singh, Alex Rufer and Mandi a constant threat on the ball.
The Phoenix set the pace from the outset, forcing a corner in the opening minute and taking a first shot in the fourth.
Sydney responded with the best early chance, Adam Le Fondre clipping a good cross over the crossbar from close range. Le Fondre was lively, showing why he has scored nine goals in as many games since arriving in Sydney, and the Phoenix did well to contain him.
But for 20 minutes, Wellington completely outplayed Sydney, scoring three goals. The first two exploited Krishna's pace superbly in the 21st and 30th minutes.
For the first, Singh curled an outstanding pass in behind the Sydney defence for the Fijian to run on to, and he produced a composed right-foot finish into the bottom corner.
For the second, Mandi passed from a similar position on the left and Krishna scored with his left foot into the opposite corner.
It's been quite a week for the Fijian. He became the club's record scorer last Sunday, then a New Zealand citizen on Thursday, and added another two goals tonight before being forced off on the hour with a hamstring complaint. Given his form, the club will be hoping any injury is not serious.
Steven Taylor capped a remarkable first half by scoring his first Phoenix goal, guiding a header into the top corner from an excellent Liberato Cacace cross.
A Tom Doyle own goal proved the catalyst for a Wellington collapse against Adelaide two weeks ago, with a 1-0 lead turning into a 3-1 defeat. Andrew Durante put the ball into his own net soon after Taylor's goal tonight but the Phoenix were spared a similar examination of their mental toughness when referee Jonathan Barreiro blew for offside.
Sydney had more of the play in the second half but Wellington proved frustrating opponents and made the hosts work hard for their only goal, scored in the 89th minute by Michael Zullo after Louis Fenton looked to have been fouled in the build-up. But no matter, the goal was a mere consolation and took little gloss off an outstanding Phoenix performance.
Wellington Phoenix 3 (R. Krishna 21, 30, S. Taylor 38)
Sydney FC 1 (M. Zullo 89).