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Phoenix fire in Auckland

WELvADECosta Rican finesse was on display at Eden Park on Saturday night, with the Hernandez-Cunningham duo proving the deciding factor for Wellington Phoenix, against the in-form Adelaide United.

Wellington began the stronger, gaining the most out of their possession with swift attacks down both flanks. Tyler Boyd, Michael Boxall and Stein Huysegems all looked enthused and lively.

Adelaide matched Wellington for possession early on, but couldn’t find room in their predictable midfield set-up. Malik, Isaias and Carrusca struggled to gel as easily as they have in previous matches, which was in-part due to the brilliant midfield display of Vince Lia and Albert Riera.

It took just 20 minutes for Hernandez to impose himself on the Adelaide defence. He received the ball well on the chest just inside the area, and an eager Daniel Bowles displayed youthful inexperience, knocking the Costa Rican to the ground and granting the Phoenix a penalty, and the lead.

Adelaide then began to control possession, and Jeronimo Neumann looked lively down the left wing, though his final touch almost always let him down.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Feb 1, 2014, 5:30 PMStadium Eden ParkAttendance 18,056Referee Peter Green

Wellington

Penalty22′ C.Hernandez (Pen)Yellow Card27′ K.CunninghamYellow Card27′ M.BoxallGoal44′ K.CunninghamYellow Card85′ C.HernandezYellow Card89′ R.Krishna

Adelaide

Yellow Card50′ B.DjiteGoal90′ A.Mabil

Bruce Djite was Adelaide’s only consistent attacking outlet, using his strength and composure to keep the ball in unlikely situations, though Adelaide failed to make anything of their possession, allowing Wellington to harass with more distinction.

In the 32nd minute, against the run of play, Tyler Boyd swung a brilliant cross to the feet of Stein Huysegems. The firing Belgium could only hit the post, and when the rebound fell to him again, his second effort flashed against the cross bar.

Then, in the 44th minute, Hernandez provided his Costa Rican counterpart with a defence splitting pass, and Kenny Cunningham composed himself, after a lengthy run, to put Wellington 2-0 in front.

The Phoenix began slower in the second half, gifting Adelaide with a good amount of possession, though Adelaide still could not link when in the attacking third.

Awer Mabil and Ryan Griffiths came on in the second half, for John McKain and Fabio Ferreira respectively – a tactical change designed to throw everything at the comfortable Wellington defence.

But despite the changes, Adelaide continued to struggle with the basics, lofting simple passes over the intended targets and failing to spread the ball effectively through midfield.

Bruce Djite came close in the 81st minute, taking the ball outside of the area and dribbling well before flashing a shot just wide of the bottom left corner.

At the other end, substitute Jeremy Brockie found himself one-on-one with Galekovic in the dying stages of the match, but the angle proved too tight for the New Zealand international, with the ball guided out by Osama Malik.

Jeronimo finally managed to deliver a quality ball into the area in the dying moments of stoppage time, and Awer Mabil composed himself with a neat volley into the bottom right corner to throw Adelaide a lifeline.

Unfortunately, the goal came too late for the Reds, with the match finishing 2-1 in favour of the Phoenix.

About the author

avatarJames is a devout Melbourne Victory fan and a UQ Journalism student, writing for Ultimate A-League.

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