Luckless Phoenix edged by 10-man City
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne City withstood losing their keeper to a second-half red card to post a gritty 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in their A-League season opener at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
City looked firmly in control after Anthony Caceres's 31st-minute goal, but a 58th-minute red card to keeper Thomas Sorensen turned the game upside down.
Phoenix striker Roy Krishna had pounced on a loose back pass and the ball struck a rushing Sorensen, outside his protected area, on the arm as the Fijian speedster closed in towards goal.
Referee Peter Green produced the red card from his pocket and Sorensen marched to the sidelines as the game erupted into life for the home side.
But despite pressing hard into seven long minutes of extra time, and urged on by the 10,034-strong crowd, Wellington couldn't find the equaliser.
City coach John van't Schip was pleased with his team's resolve in shutting out the win, but would have been happier to see at least another goal from their dominant first half.
"The first half, we played some good football and created some chances," he said afterwards.
"If we'd made the second or third one, the game was played. But we didn't do that, and then in the second half after the sending off, it was a different game.
"But the team showed character and togetherness. As a team they were fighting, and in the end that resulted in the three points."
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick, missing four players on international duty with the All Whites as well as injured defender Tom Doyle, said Wellington struggled to match City in the middle.
"We were over-run in the midfield, and I don't think we really got hold of the midfield at all in the first half.
"I thought in the second half we had better chances, but I still don't think the midfield play was particularly good."
City's accuracy and pace on attack, and the options offered by four high strikers, were apparent right from the first whistle.
Pacy Argentinian winger Nicolas Colazo proved a real handful, combining with last year's golden boot Bruno Fornaroli and new signing Fernando Brandan to keep Glen Moss on his toes.
In contrast, Wellington looked cramped in the attacking third, struggling to find their timing, and City looked to have the game well under control until Sorensen's red card galvanised Wellington into life.