Football: Kosta Barbarouses stays hot as Wellington Phoenix move clear atop A-League ladder with draw against Adelaide United

  • 05/01/2024

Wellington Phoenix have rung in the new year with a 2-2 draw against Adelaide United to move clear atop the A-League standings.

Red-hot Kosta Barbarouses continued his irresistible form, bagging a brace to out his name on the scoring sheet for a fourth game in a row.

The All Whites veteran has now scored six goals in four games, netting one in each half against United, and is now fourth equal in the golden boot race.

Adelaide's Hiroshi Ibusuki replicated those efforts, scoring the final goal of the match to clinch his shorthanded side a draw.

The Phoenix are now one-point clear of Melbourne Victory at the top of the competition ladder.

Kosta Barbarouses celebrates one of his goals.
Kosta Barbarouses celebrates one of his goals. Photo credit: Getty Images

Barbarouses gave the Phoenix the lead in the 15th minute, when he tapped home from a few yards out after Kelly-Heald nodded Alex Rufer’s diagonal ball back across goal.

Ibusuki equalised in the 26th minute, when he headed home a right-wing corner from Zach Clough.

The Phoenix reclaimed the lead just seconds into the second half when Barbarouses slotted home from near the penalty spot after the Reds were unable to deal with Tim Payne’s cross from the right edge of the box. 
Ibusuki drew Adelaide level for a second time less than 10 minutes later when he swept home an Irankunda cut-back after the teenager burst forward down the right flank.

The Reds spent the final eight minutes with just 10 men, after substitute centre back Ben Warland was show a straight red for bundling over Oskar van Hattum.

Midfielder Nichola Pennington almost nabbed a late winner for the Phoenix, with his header bouncing off the post.

While pleased with his team's performance, Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano said he was disappointed they couldn't leave with the full three points.

"I felt that was the time we could have taken advantage of the 10 men and we could have settled into a lot of our patterns that we work on," Italiano told media post-match.

"The intent to win the game was there but we were just a little bit naïve in executing and maybe putting them to the sword.

"But we'll learn. I feel as though the team is maturing [and] we need games like this where we can work on these things and for the long-term planning if we can fix these things then it'll be a good season."

The Phoenix now head to Sydney to join all other clubs for the inaugural A-League Unite weekend. They'll face Perth Glory at CommBank Stadium next Sunday.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Barbarouses 15th min, 46th min) Adelaide United 2 (Ibusuki 26th min, 55th min)