A-League: Wellington Phoenix overcome odds to clinch finals berth with win over Western Sydney Wanderers

  • 06/05/2022

Wellington Phoenix have clinched a spot in the A-League finals with a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Sydney on Thursday.

Sam Sutton got the Phoenix off to the perfect start with a sumptuous volley in the third minute, before midfielder Reno Piscopo's struck the decisive blow with a thunderbolt in the 65th minute to secure the Phoenix the sixth and final playoff berth with a match to spare.

It's the second time in three seasons Ufuk Talay has helped the Phoenix overcome the odds to make the finals, after being forced to play away from home for the best part of two years - the seventh time in the club's 15-year history they've advanced to the post-season.

"Very happy with the outcome for tonight," Talay said after the game. 

"I'm very pleased for the group, I'm very pleased for my staff and I'm very pleased for the club at the same time.

"We've got some great owners that have sacrificed a lot of things financially for us to be here. And I'm very pleased for the families and the fans back home as well.

"It's been a challenging two seasons. Last year we came very close and just missed out but this year we’ve made it into the top six and now we look forward."

The result meant the Phoenix weren't left to rely on Sydney FC fortunes through their final two games, keeping their fate in their own hands.

"I'm glad that we did it on our own and won the game tonight and didn’t rely on other results to go our own way.

"I wanted us to be able to write and use our own pen, rather than rely on someone else’s pen to choose our fate and our destiny.

"I'm very glad and very pleased for the group that they did it tonight and got the three points that we needed."

After Tomer Hemed's 29th minute equaliser, the Phoenix bounced back to create several opportunities and had two goals disallowed for offside, until Piscopo cashed in with a piece of individual brilliance.

They then rode their stout defence - led by another brilliant display by goalkeeper Oli Sail - until the final whistle.

The Wellington Phoenix will round out their regular season campaign against Melbourne City on Monday, before an elimination final against a yet to be determined opponent.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Sam Sutton 3', Reno Piscopo 65') Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Tomer Hemed 29'). HT: 1-1