Sunday Star-Times

Phoenix confound Jets


The Wellington Phoenix’s form reversal has continued with an impressive away win over the Newcastle Jets.

The 3-2 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium last night meant they moved to within five points of the top six, a seemingly improbably position given they were 10 points adrift at the start of the year.

They overcame a shaky start in Newcastle and rode their luck at both ends, but eventually got the three points thanks to goals from Matija Ljujic, Daniel Mullen and Roy Krishna.

That made it two wins and a draw from their last three games.

Second-placed Newcastle were the dominant side early on, breaking through a leaky Phoenix defence on multiple occasions, but they could not find a way past big Phoenix goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.

Twice in the first 20 minutes he came up with crucial saves to deny Newcastle, including batting away a ball from Jason Hoffman’s feet as he looked to round him and tap home into an empty net.

Having weathered those storms, the Phoenix came into the game a bit more, although their opener was somewhat fortuitous.

Ljujic, who scored a screamer in his second Phoenix game last weekend, whipped a cross in from the right side with his left foot. It eluded headers from both a Newcastle defender and Wellington midfielder Michael McGlinchey, before also beating stranded Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan after one bounce.

Duncan was only playing because Glen Moss was a late scratching with a hip injury and he won’t look back fondly on that replay.

The Phoenix’s second came eight minutes later in more straightfo­rward fashion as Mullen headed home a Matthew Ridenton corner. It was the defender’s first A-League goal since December 22, 2011, playing 87 games since then.

Mullen picked up a knock to the knee before the goal and was eventually replaced at halftime by

Scott Galloway.

The second half started in disastrous fashion for the Phoenix, with their suspect defending from early in the first half returning.

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