A League 2021: Late goal sees Wellington Phoenix steal opening win over Central Coast

Jaushua Sotirio's late goal has lifted Wellington Phoenix to their first win of the A League season, clinching a 2-1 result over previous tabletoppers Central Coast.

After a week that saw them repeatedly reminded of their winless ways, the NZ club needed some luck to break their duck, despite leading early and having to claw their way back against the run of play.

Mexican Ulisses Davila opened their account in the 14th minute, running onto a return back-heel pass from Israeli striker Tomer Hemed to slot home from the edge of the penalty box.

As they have for most of their young campaign, the Phoenix dominated the first half, but could not add to their scoreline before the break.

Instead, Alou Kuol levelled the affair moments before halftime, latching onto a corner and angling his shot past goalie Stefan Marinovic.

After the restart, the Mariners camped in Wellington territory, bombarding the goal without reward.

With time running out, Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay introduced Sotirio's extra pace to the game, replacing David Ball, and moments later, the sub provided the winner.

Alex Rufer feed a long ball into the goal area, where Aussie Sotirio beat a defender and caught keeper Mark Birighitti in no-man's land to find the back of the net.

Since last season's COVID-19 restart in July, the Phoenix had won just once in 10 games and many wondered whether they had simply forgotten how to win. Talay palmed off those accusations at the time and has now seen that faith vindicated.   

After their second loss from five games, the Mariners have now fallen behind Brisbane Roar on goal difference, while the Phoenix escape the bottom of the table, where they were the last team to register victory.

Their next chance to build momentum comes against defending champions Sydney FC on February 8.