Phoenix denies Victory

Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix have played out a 1-1 draw before 17,644 fans at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix have played out a 1-1 draw before 17,644 fans at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The home side started brighter and took the lead inside four minutes when Carlos Hernandez fired home from 30m but Tim Brown found an equaliser for Phoenix on the half-hour mark and neither team was able to break the deadlock from then on as each took a point.

The fans were cheering early when former Victory player Vince Lia brought down Ney Fabiano and Hernandez nonchalantly stepped up and curled it past Mark Paston and into the left corner just days after Hernandez returned from international duty with Costa Rica.

After a quarter of an hour of limited chances the game came to life when a superb Chris Greenacre cross was met by Daniel at the front of the box but Glen Moss blocked the his volley and then grabbed the loose ball.

Seconds later at the other end and Tom Pondeljak's near-post cross was met by a diving Fabiano but his header flew narrowly wide.

Having begun to win more of the ball the Phoenix finally hit back in the 30th minute when Paul Ifill and Greenacre put Daniel into the clear and he pulled it back to the near post where Ifill headed it on for Brown to knock it in from the front of the six-yard box.

Within a minute of the restart Melbourne had the chance to reclaim the lead but Hernandez and Archie Thompson both ran for the same ball and then left it for each other allowing Paston to block and allow the defence to clear.

In the final 10 minutes of the half both teams had a couple of chances, Wellington skipper firing a full-blooded header straight at Moss who just tipped it over the bar before Thompson just failed to control the ball after being put clear by Hernandez.

A Hernandez corner in the final minutes found Fabiano but he again headed wide while a Bertos corner was again nodded on by Ifill and while it fell to Greenacre he could only shoot weakly as the ball bobbled away from him and Moss blocked with his legs.

Six minutes after the break and a free kick from Bertos was deflected wide by the wall before McKain's subsequent corner found an unmarked Brown but he was unable double his haul, sending his free header wide from close range.

Mid-week recruit Robbie Kruse came on after 58 minutes for Fabiano before on the hour Ifill wrong-footed Leigh Broxham and skipped into the box but pulled his shot back across the goal and it went narrowly wide with no one waiting at the far post.

In the 70th minute a Pondeljak cross fell for Hernandez but the defence did enough to block as he was getting ready to pull the trigger before Victory made another change a minute later with Nick Ward introduced for Pondeljak.

A flowing move that saw Thompson put clear down the left before crossing for Ward in the 84th minute came to nothing when McKain blocked Ward's shot on the edge of the box and the game was held up as McKain stayed down after copping a knock to the leg.

Victory had one last chance to score in the dying seconds when Matthew Kemp and Thompson combined to get the ball to Hernandez in the box but his cross was met by an offside Grant Brebner whose shot flew wide regardless.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Hernandez 4) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Brown 30) Sunday, September 13, 2009 Etihad Stadium Referee: Craig Zetter Crowd: 17,644

Sunshine George Cross FC also received $2000 from the match as this week's Hyundai Goals for Grassroots club, with $1000 plus $1000 for each goal scored by Victory.

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