Phoenix makes history as streak continues
WELLINGTON Phoenix extended its unbeaten A-League streak to seven games with a 3-1 win over Western United in Ballarat.
David Ball scored in the 41st minute at Mars Stadium, Callum McCowatt doubled the margin in the 55th minute, and Ulises Davila rounded out the game in the 80th minute.
Alessandro Diamanti slotted an 89th-minute consolation penalty as the Phoenix earned redemption for their 1-0 first-round loss to United.
The hosts suffered an early blow when Brendan Hamill was forced off with a knee injury after 14 minutes.
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They were then arguably fortunate to remain with 11 men after Jerry Skotadis dodged a red card for elbowing Ball in the 21st minute.
Skotadis appeared to catch Ball around the head but was not booked.
United, playing in their first ever A-League game at Ballarat, had the chance to open the scoring in the 33rd minute when Max Burgess hit the post, but from there the Phoenix took the ascendancy.
In the 40th minute Ball went on an ominous, surging run down the left wing and forced a diving fingertip save from Filip Kurto.
A minute later, he gave the Phoenix the lead.
The energetic Cameron Devlin dispossessed Burgess and played an early ball to Davila. The Mexican attacker went on a breakaway run, spinning away from Aaron Calver, then held off Skotadis and cut a pass across to Ball, who slid the ball past Kurto.
United came desperately close to equalising in the 48th minute through Scott McDonald, who forced a close-range save from Stefan Marinovic.
Seven minutes later the excellent Reno Piscopo charged past Dylan Pierias and laid the ball off to McCowatt, who managed to work through the United defence and score.
In the 80th minute substitute Gary Hooper slipped a ball through to Davila, who charged down the right flank then coolly finished.
United earned a late penalty when Phoenix skipper Steven Taylor dived into the path of Valentino Yuel's shot, handballing in the process.
Diamanti dispatched a lethal spot-kick past Marinovic for a consolation goal.
Wellington almost had the final say as Hooper headed past Kurto in injury time, but his goal was ruled off-side.
Phoenix's run of form now sees it sixth, equal on 15 points with Perth and Adelaide.
United remains third on 17 points but has played an extra game.