Five-star Heart put Phoenix to the sword
A David Williams hat-trick led Melbourne Heart to a resounding 5-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium. It makes it three wins in a row for the Heart, who have been in inspired form since John van’t Schip took over as head coach.
Both teams made significant changes to the sides which won impressively last weekend. Wellington brought Boxall, Brockie, Cunningham and Hicks into the starting lineup for Brindell-South, Boyd, Ridenton, and Caira, while Heart recalled Engelaar to the first team after serving his suspension, and elevated Gerhardt and in-form forward Williams for the injured Kewell and Germano.
It was the visitors who produced the first meaningful attacks when Williams latched onto a Behich lay off outside the box to shoot well wide before Ramsay forced a low save from Moss.
And it was the Heart who opened the scoring in the 8th minute, with the returning Engelaar the scorer. The Dutchman let fly a thunderous strike following a blocked Dugandzic shot, rocketing past the Wellington ‘keeper before he could move.
Melbourne had all of the play and should have scored again in the following six minutes as Williams fluffed two chances. The first saw the forward bundle a shot wide when he should have hit the target before he missed a golden opportunity. Dugandzic beat the offside trap and pulled the ball back to the penalty spot where Williams had a clear sight of goal, but he could only put his effort well over the crossbar.
The Phoenix were living dangerously, and Williams finally made them pay in the 19th minute, thanks to a quick free-kick from Engelaar. The Heart’s marquee player picked up the ball in the centre of the field and lofted a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Williams who volleyed over the oncoming Moss from 40 yards out to make it 2-0.
Wellington struggled to match their guests but, as the half wore on, they managed to come into the game. Still, their first-half chances amounted to a Hicks swivelled effort which flew over the crossbar, a blocked shot from Cunningham in the box, and several tame attempts by Hernandez from long-range.
There were promising signs for the Phoenix early in the second half, with Redmayne tested by two quick balls across goal.
But that was as good as it got for Wellington, who went further behind in the 50th minute as Murdocca intercepted a ball in the centre circle from substitute Ridenton that fell to Williams. The two-exchanged a neat one-two that resulted in the forward charging into the right side of the penalty area and duly slotting home to make it 3-0.
It got even worse for the Phoenix three minutes later, albeit with a touch of fortune for the visitors. A clearing header from a Heart corner fell straight to Wielaert at the edge of the box, and the defender’s venomous shot cannoned off the crossbar into Moss’ back before rolling into the back of the net.
There was luck to the fourth goal, but it was slack defending that led to Heart’s fifth in the 63rd minute. The Phoenix failed to mark Williams from Dugandzic’s corner, and the Melbourne striker took his time and coolly curled an effort from outside the box to grab his hattrick.
That would be it for the Heart, as Moss expertly tipped over Mauk’s powerful long-range strike in the 86th minute, before Jarred Gillett blew the final whistle to put the hosts out of their misery.