Three first half goals by Melbourne Victory gave them a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park tonight.
Archie Thompson put the Phoenix on the back foot as early as the third minute with a headed goal that was aided by some sloppy defending.
Victory’s second was a bizarre own goal by Phoenix midfielder Vince Lia when he couldn’t get out of the way of a strong shot by Carlos Hernandez and deflected the ball past helpless goalkeeper Tony Warner.
Had the ball not hit Lia it would more than likely have gone out for a throw in it was so far off target.
Diogo Ferreira made it 3-0 in the 26th minute with a superb strike and it looked as if the Phoenix were in for a rough evening.
The second half saw a much improved performance from the Phoenix and it was no more than they deserved when striker Alex Smith, in for the injured Paul Ifill, produced a lovely shot with the outside of his right foot to reduce the deficit.
The spark that had been evident against Brisbane Roar in Dunedin on Wednesday was missing and it appeared playing three games in eight days and travelling between Wellington, Dunedin and Melbourne had caught up with them.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said his players looked a bit off the pace tonight.
“They were a bit lethargic and that led to some sloppy defending,” Herbert said.
“It was tough copping three goals in the first 25 minutes, but in the second half we showed some character and caused them one or two problems.
“Victory are a good side and they also had chances when we were chasing the game, but there were some positives to come out of a disappointing evening.
“Alex Smith has done well for us since arriving as an injury replacement and his goal was excellent.
“Dani Sanchez has been injured, which is why he couldn’t start, and I hope he comes through this without any problems because we need him.
“Daniel did himself no harm when he came on either. He was lively and shifted the ball well which got the momentum back for us.”
Melbourne Victory 3 (A Thompson, V Lia own goal, D Ferreira), Wellington Phoenix 1 (A Smith). HT: 3-0.