Football: Wellington Phoenix dealt double dose of defeat in A-League Men, Women contests against Sydney FC

  • 30/12/2023

Sydney FC have handed the Wellington Phoenix just their second defeat of the A-League Men's season on Friday.

The Sky Blues have beaten the Phoenix 3-1 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, scoring two late goals after Kosta Barbarouses had found the back of the net for the fourth time in three games to draw the NZ-based side level in the 81st minute.

Wellington remain top of the table but will be joined on 20 points by Melbourne Victory, if they beat Adelaide United tomorrow night.

Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano felt his side was unlucky to leave Allianz Stadium empty-handed after a strong second half showing.

"I'm extremely proud of my group, especially after the first half," Italiano said post-match.

"We took a long time to get into the game [and] we gave away a really soft goal off the corner.

"We still had a couple of good chances in that first half but it wasn't working as well as we'd planned.

Cortnee Vine of Sydney FC controls the ball against the Phoenix.
Cortnee Vine of Sydney FC controls the ball against the Phoenix. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I think the players gave everything in the second half. They did exactly what I asked, and I can't fault them for that.

"I think that shows a lot of character within the group. There's a lot of belief…and we were five minutes away from getting a draw away from home against a really tough opponent."

Sydney's second goal came after a rare error from young goalkeeper Alex Paulsen when he gave away possession deep in the Wellington half.

"It happens. [If] we're faulting him for one mistake in round 10 then it's pretty good.

"It's going to happen. It won't be the last time.

"Could he improve potentially the timing or the weight of the pass? Yes, but he's still a young kid as well and to expect anyone to be faultless is not reasonable."

Giancarlo Italiano named an unchanged XI, selecting the same starting line-up and bench from their past two matches, with Tim Payne playing his 100th A-League match and Scott Wootton his 50th.

The Phoenix will remain in Sydney over New Year before flying to South Australia on Wednesday for their next match against Adelaide United on Thursday night.

The Phoenix's women's counterparts were also beaten by Sydney FC, going down 1-0 at Allianz Stadium.

The Sky Blues scored the match winner in the 78th minute largely against the run of play, consigning Wellington to their tyhird straight away defeat.
"It stings a little bit because I felt we were well worth, at the minimum, a point out of the game, perhaps on the second half deserved all three," Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said post-match. 
"We probably could have prevented the goal we conceded and then we created some really good chances, especially in that last 10 minutes there, and I’m frustrated we weren't able to put at least one of them away."

The Phoenix will have a couple of days over the New Year, before returning to training on Tuesday to prepare for next Sunday’s match against the Roar in Brisbane.