Football: Wellington Phoenix return to A-League summit, take victory in seven-goal thriller against Perth Glory

Wellington Phoenix have returned to the top of the men's A-League, courtesy of a thrilling 4-3 victory over Perth Glory at Sydney.  

Another Kosta Barbarouses double - taking his recent goal tally to eight in his last five appearances - saw the Phoenix home and overtake Melbourne Victory atop the table, courtesy of win count.  

Wellington have seven wins so far this season, along with three draws and two defeats. Those wins have come in just 12 games, closing in on last season's regular-season record of nine wins in 26 games.  

They fell behind after just seven minutes, as Perth striker Adam Taggart's looping header left Alex Paulsen picking the ball out of his own net.

Wellington Phoenix celebrate.
Wellington Phoenix celebrate. Photo credit: Getty Images

Barbarouses hit back 20 minutes later, as an incisive ball down the wing saw the All Whites forward cut back onto his left foot and rifle a shot to the near post to beat Glory keeper Cameron Cook.  

The strike saw Barbarouses continue his run of scoring, with goals now in each of his last five matches.  

The Phoenix took the lead before the break, through the unlikely boot of captain Alex Rufer. As Bozhidar Kraev went down inside the penalty area, the Glory defence switched off amid Phoenix appeals for a penalty.  

Not wasting the initiative, Rufer drove a first-time effort past a diving Cook and gave his team the lead for the first time on the night.  

The second half saw the heavens open over Parramatta, as defender Aleksandar Susnjar equalised in the 50th minute, beating Paulsen with a rocket into the top of the net that will almost certainly contend for goal of the season.  

Undeterred, the Phoenix also hit back through a defender, when Tim Payne lashed a Barbarouses pull-back past Cook to restore Wellington's lead.  

Coming off the bench, Perth's Jarrod Carluccio equalised yet again, showing clean footwork to find space inside the penalty area and getting the better of leftback Sam Sutton.  

Despite the quality of all six goals to that point, arguably the ugliest earned the Phoenix the three points.  

As Payne broke down the right, freed by Rufer, a cross back into the area saw Barbarouses fire pointblank at the keeper, as Cook could only parry into his own net.


The win takes the Phoenix back to the top of the A-League on the new rule, which sees teams sorted by number of wins, as opposed to goal difference.  

Unbeaten Melbourne Victory sit second, despite boasting the same number of points and a superior goal difference over Giancarlo Italiano's side, with six wins and six draws.  

The two sides can play for the outright lead on Friday, when the Phoenix host the Victory in Wellington. They have already met once this season, when the Phoenix snatched a 1-1 draw, despite not registering a shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.  

Wellington Phoenix 4 (Barbarouses 2, Rufer, Payne)  Perth Glory 3 (Taggart, Susnjar, Carluccio)