A-League 2020: Wellington Phoenix fall to controversial defeat to Sydney FC

The Wellington Phoenix have been left to lament the lack of VAR in falling to a controversial 3-1 defeat to competition leaders Sydney FC to resume the A-League season on Friday.

After a scoreless first half at Jubilee Stadium in which the Phoenix took the upper hand, Reno Piscopo's penalty was rubbed out by a dicey spot kick decision in the other direction, before a dubious offside call wiped out out a Ulises Davila goal.

The indefinite suspension of the A-League's VAR system meant neither of those goals were able to reviewed.

The salt was then rubbed into those wounds by a quickfire brace of goals from substitute Trent Buhagiar, who fired home twice in five minutes to snap the Phoenix's four-game win streak.

The quality of play was high from the outset from both sides, showing no signs of rust as they got stuck into their work in the greasy, yet calm, conditions.

The Phoenix enjoyed the early rub of the green, earning a trio of corners sparked by some enterprising work on the right from Louis Fenton.

In fact, they may well have deserved a penalty, after Alex Rufer latched onto a deflected shot that looked to have rebounded directly off the arm of the defender. 

Sydney began to warm to their work with some methodical build-up play on attack, with Le Fondre and Brattan drawing some superb saves from Phoenix keeper Stefan Marinovic.

Territory and possession was almost dead even heading into the halftime break, with both teams having completed an impressive 90 percent of their passes.

Again, the Phoenix came out the brighter of the two teams, as the game began to open up under a fresh deluge of rain.

They were soon rewarded for their hard work with a penalty, after Liberato Cacace was clearly pulled down trying to pursue a ball about to roll for a goal kick in the 65th minute.

Piscopo stepped up to calmly slot the penalty low and left for the Phoenix to take a deserved 1-0 lead.

But just 11 minutes later, Sydney FC had their equaliser in somewhat dubious circumstances. Davila was ruled to have handled the ball on the edge of the box, although it looked to have rebounded off his chest first. Adam Le Fondre slid home the equaliser.

The Phoenix seemed to have gone ahead again but were cruelly denied by the referee's assistant, when Davila's shot from the edge of the box deflected off Gary Hooper, who was adjudged offside. Replays showed the Hooper was likely onside.

Then the killer double blow came from Buhagiar to put the game away for Sydney.