Football: Wellington Phoenix men hammered by Adelaide United, stumble to fourth consecutive defeat

Wellington Phoenix men's return to A-League action has gone down like a lead balloon, as the Kiwi side were hammered 4-0 by previously winless Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium for a fourth consecutive loss.

Back on the pitch after the Australian football schedule's falling victim to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Phoenix returned after their previous two matches were forced to be postponed.

But they'd have wished they hadn't as the Phoenix suffered the joint-worst defeat under manager Ufuk Talay, equalling the same scoreline against Newcastle Jets earlier this season, losing 4-0.

Still impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the A-League, the Phoenix were without winger Reno Piscopo and defender Matthew Bozinovski - both of whom tested positive earlier this week. 

The impact of the virus was felt by both sides though, with Adelaide goalkeeper Joe Gauci and forward Mohamed Toure also ruled out.

In fact, such is COVID's grip on the A-League, Saturday's clash between the Phoenix and Adelaide is the only fixture going ahead this round, with teams unable to field a side due to infections.

In the first-half, the Phoenix fell a goal down as a strike from Craig Goodwin deflected off teammate George Blackwood, and past stranded keeper Alex Paulsen into the net after seven minutes.

It was hardly an ideal start to the evening for Paulsen, making his first Phoenix start after injury to regular No.1 goalkeeper Oli Sail.

Down 1-0 at the break, a pair of penalties for Adelaide saw the hosts triple their lead to 3-0, as Goodwin converted twice from the spot.

The first penalty came thanks to intervention from the video referee, as Blackwood went to ground under the challenge of Tim Payne, before Bernardo Oliveira was fouled by left-back James McGarry for the second.

Javi Lopez sealed the victory in the 80th minute, firing a volley past Paulsen after a perfect cross from Ryan Kitto, ending Adelaide's streak of five matches without victory so far this season.

The defeat leaves the Phoenix 11th of the 12 teams on the A-League ladder, with only Brisbane Roar yet to win this season. The Kiwi side have four points from their six matches, with one win, one draw and four consecutive defeats.

Adelaide meanwhile have moved up to seventh on the ladder, a point clear of Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers.