Football: Wellington Phoenix advance to FFA Cup knockout semi-final after penalty shootout against Melbourne City

Midfielder Nicholas Pennington has slotted his spot-kick to send Wellington Phoenix into the FFA Cup knockout semi-finals with a nervous penalty shootout win over Melbourne City.

In a quarter-final fixture postponed from last month, after City were riddled with positive COVID-19 tests, neither side were able to score during 105 minutes of regulation and overtime, forcing a dreaded resolution from the penalty spot.

Wellington took an early advantage, when teenager goalkeeper Alex Paulsen saved the opening strike of the shootout from Melbourne's Rostyn Griffith and Ben Waine slotted for the Phoenix.

That edge swung back Melbourne's way, when Joshua Laws, Louis Fenton and captain Alex Rufer all missed their efforts to trail 2-1.

But Paulsen kept his side in the contest with a save on Scott Galloway and the Phoenix were back on level pegging, when Scott Jamieson also missed and Jaushua Sotirio was on target.

Stefan Colakovski and Clayton Lewis slotted for their respective sides, and the shootout entered a seventh round still tied up.

In just his second appearance for the Phoenix, Paulsen stopped Marco Tilio's penalty, while Pennington found the top corner to spark celebrations for a side that has had precious little to rejoice from their 2021/22 A-League campaign so far, with just one win from six games.

Wellington will learn their semi-final opponents on Thursday, with Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory also booking their passage to the penultimate round, and Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar scheduled to play next Wednesday.

Despite the delay, Melbourne City were still decimated by the coronavirus, with only five regular first-team players available for the midweek meeting with the Phoenix.

Wellington had two players in COVID-19 isolation and three others ruled out with inconsistent tests, with Pennington and Sam Sutton promoted into the line-up that fell to Adelaide United on New Year's Day.

They enjoyed a statistical advantage through regulation and overtime, although Sotirio found the back of the net just before halftime, but his header was disallowed, when striker David Ball was ajudged offside.

But their results in the knockout competition have buoyed an otherwise disappointing season, which continues against Newcastle Jets on Saturday.

Wellington Phoenix 4 (Waine, Sotirio, Lewis, Pennington) Melbourne City 3 on penalties