Football: Wellington Phoenix cap off record breaking day with Western United thrashing

Wellington Phoenix have marked their first NZ home game in 433 days with a near-perfect performance to thrash Western United 3-0 at Sky Stadium.  

The 'Yellow Fever' faithful turned out in force and the players put on a clinical attacking display to claim their eighth victory of the season, and keep them in the playoff hunt.  

The 24,105-strong crowd smashed their regular-season record for a game in Wellington and marked the highest attendance for an A-League game this season. 

Without captain Ulises Davila, the Phoenix welcomed back experienced defender Steven Taylor, who missed the 2-2 draw with Melbourne City, due to illness. 

Western United had the first real shot in anger, when Dylan Pierias forced a comfortable save from Phoenix goalkeeper Oliver Sail, who was fresh off signing a new two-year deal. 

The Phoenix created the best chance 10 minutes into the contest, when Tomer Hemed forced a great save from Western goalkeeper Ryan Scott.

Ben Waine - another recipient of an extended contract - had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after 11 minutes, when he had a free header, but missed it over the bar. 

The home side dominated the opening half, as they looked to entertain the home fans, pouring 18 balls into the United penalty area and nine shots on goal.

After 38 minutes, they finally got their reward, when local product Clayton Lewis - playing his first game at the venue - scored, thanks to a massive deflection. 

The Phoenix almost doubled their lead a minute later, when Hemed had a header saved by Scott, as Western only trailled 1-0 at halftime. 

The Phoenix stormed out of the shed and almost added to their score after 55 minutes, when Hemed played a delightful backheel to David Ball, who forced a smart save out of Scott. 

Just a minute later, the hosts grabbed their second, when Reno Piscopo rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

Wellington continued their brilliant attacking play, and Waine and Piscopo forced fine saves from Scott. 

Just six minutes later, the Phoenix grabbed their third of the evening, when Hemed headed in a pinpoint Louie Fenton cross for his eighth goal of the season. 

Western United finally forced Sail into work, when Alessandro Diamanti fired a long-range shot at the Wellington custodian.

The Phoenix were able to hand a debut to young academy product Benjamin Old, as they looked to run down the clock. 

The 3-0 victory sees the Phoenix move up to seventh, three points outside the top-six playoff race, with three games to play.