Football: Wellington Phoenix stay top of men's A-League after draw with Melbourne Victory in top of the table clash

An injury-time penalty to captain Alex Rufer means Wellington Phoenix remain atop the men's A-League, with a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory.  

Two months after a 1-1 stalemate between the league's two leading sides - which saw the Phoenix secure a point, despite not having a shot on goal - neither side could beat the other for the second time this season.  

Giancarlo Italiano's side having to play the entire second half with only 10 men, as Tim Payne was shown a straight red card for a raised foot, after a sliding challenge on Zinedine Machach.

Alex Rufer celebrates his penalty against Melbourne Victory.
Alex Rufer celebrates his penalty against Melbourne Victory. Photo credit: Photosport

The Victory looked to have sealed the win with a late goal to substitute Connor Chapman, thanks to a huge deflection from a shot by Nishan Velupillay.  

With time almost up, Victory right-back Jason Geria was adjudged by the video referee to have brought down Oskar van Hattum inside the area.  

A ball over the top from Ben Old saw van Hattum make a deep run, before contact with Geria brought him to ground, even if there were doubts over whether he could get there first.

With just the Phoenix's third shot on target, Rufer made no mistake from the spot, beating Paul Izzo to equalise and steal the point needed to keep the Phoenix atop the league.  

One consolation for the Victory was their ability to end the scoring run of Kosta Barbarouses, who'd found the net eight times in his last five games before Friday's encounter.   

Despite the Victory having a superior goal difference (11-7), the Wellington side remain top of the table, as the A-League adopts a new system where wins act as the first tiebreaker.  

While still unbeaten from their first 13 matches of the season, the Victory have won just six games, compared to the Phoenix's seven.   

The Phoenix return to the pitch next Saturday, when they travel to Newcastle Jets.