Football: Wellington Phoenix go top of A-League as Alex Paulsen's goalkeeping heroics deny Melbourne City

Wellington Phoenix have gone top of the men's A-League - for now - after a 1-0 victory over Melbourne City at Auckland's Go Media Stadium Mt Smart.  

A heroic display from goalkeeper Alex Paulsen, who made a string of saves including a penalty, saved the Phoenix, who preserved their unbeaten start to the new season under first-time coach Giancarlo Italiano.

Victory takes the Phoenix top of the league, with 11 points from five matches, now with three wins and two draws to begin their new campaign.

The Phoenix can be overtaken at the top of the table by Western Sydney Wanderers, should they defeat Sydney FC later on Saturday night. 

In a frenetic start, the Phoenix were afforded a chance to open the scoring in the first minute, as a ball over the top of City's defence from Nicholas Pennington landed perfectly for David Ball - making his 100th A-League appearance - only to be saved by keeper Jamie Young.

Half an hour later, the Phoenix had their best chance of the first half, as a break down the right saw Kosta Barbarouses unable to find the back of the net after a pullback from Ball.

Barbarouses went close again before the break, as an early shot nearly caught Young napping, as the City keeper got down low to his left to keep the sides scoreless.

Melbourne had their chances as well, as a free-kick from Hamza Sakhi forced an excellent save from Paulsen, tipping the ball over the bar with his fingertips.

Scoreless at halftime, the Phoenix finally broke the deadlock after the break.

Breaking from inside their own half, Mohamed Al-Taay played Ball in behind the City defence, who squared a pass away to an unmarked Bozhidar Kraev, who tapped into an empty net at the back post with Young caught out of position.

Melbourne had their best chance of the match on the hour mark, when a mix-up between Paulsen and Lukas Kelly-Heald nearly resulted in an own goal, before the ball was cleared to safety. 

The visitors' hopes were boosted midway through the second half, as a penalty was controversially awarded when Kraev was judged to have fouled Sakhi inside the area.

But with a string of excellent saves already under his belt, Paulsen produced his best of the afternoon to deny Jamie Maclaren from the spot, pushing his effort onto the post, as Sakhi's follow-up sailed over the bar.

Looking to hold onto their lead, the Phoenix were happy to sit back and try to hit Melbourne on the counter, seeing Barbarouses denied by Young's fingertips in added time.

Fittingly, Paulsen had the final say, holding on one-handed to a Terry Antonis header, as the final whistle sounded at Mt Smart.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Kraev)
Melbourne City 0