The curse has been lifted for the Western Sydney Wanderers. After nine losses and four draws this A-League season, the Wanderers finally bagged three points with a 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in front of 12,663 fans in Penrith on Sunday afternoon.
A brilliant strike from Nikita Rukavystya from inside the box in the 18th minute looked to be the difference as the willing Wanderers fended off a second half surge from the Phoenix, before Brendon Santalab doubled the lead in added time.
18’ Nikita Rukavystya 1-0 – After threatening a couple of times, the Wanderers finally got the ball into the box from a Labinot Haliti cross and the Phoenix defence was caught napping. Rukavystya was able to control, turn and whack a shot past Glen Moss, finally breaking his goal-scoring drought.
91’ Brendon Santalab 2-0 – Substitute Nick Kalmar found himself in space in the box, cut it back and crossed to an unmarked Santalab who touched home the easiest finish of his life to seal the game.
With six minutes left on the clock, Roly Bonevacia fired a free-kick from just outside the box. The ball ricocheted into a few players and the Nix appealed ferociously for a handball, but the ref didn’t buy it. Two minutes later Burns was bought down in the box, but again, the ref remained unconvinced.
Opta Data Stats
It was a mammoth second half defensive effort from a desperate WSW side. The Phoenix ended the match with 60% possession, 23 crosses to 13 and 430 passes to 288 but couldn’t find a way to goal.
It’s possible Nathan Burns was the best player on the field (Matthew Spiranovic fans might have something to say about that) and whenever he touched the ball in the final third he looked like causing trouble. He just couldn’t find the killer touch when he needed it.
How did the Phoenix not score in the second half? The visitors had a succession of corners, free-kicks and half chances from probing runs into the box as the Wanderers shut up shop, but the ball somehow never found the back of the net.
Rukavystya was an early substitution after picking up a calf strain. He was replaced five minutes before halftime.
67% possession in 2nd half but having trouble getting past this #WSWvWEL pic.twitter.com/vxoLLWTYKS
— Keegan Check (@Tegal1234) February 8, 2015
Ante Covic, Yusuke Tanaka, Nikolai Topor-Stanley (c), Brendan Hamill, Antony Golec, Labinot Haliti (Nick Kalmar 80’), Mateo Poljak, Tomi Juric (Brendon Santalab 76’), Nikita Rukavytsa (Shannon Cole 40’), Matthew Spiranovic, Mark Bridge
Glen Moss, Manny Muscat, Rolieny Bonevacia, Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey, Albert Riera, Louis Fenton (Michael Boxall 61’), Lince Lia (Alex Rodriguez 45’), Ben Sigmund, Roy Krishna (Kenny Cunningham76’), Andrew Durante (c)