Ship sail

Wellington Phoenix scores six goals in humiliating 6-0 loss to Melbourne City

At PointsBet Stadium, Sydney: Melbourne City 6 (Finn Surman own goal 17′, Mathew Leckie 50′, Andrew Nabbout 59′, Curtis Good 68′, Marco Tilio 76′, 81′) Wellington Phoenix 0. ME: 1-0

Wellington Phoenix was hit for six years by Melbourne City.

After back-to-back victories against teams that propelled them into the top four, league titles Phoenix faced a huge reality check from men’s A-League leaders at PointsBet Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

Their 6-0 loss was the Phoenix’s biggest since losing to Melbourne Victory by the same scoreline in October 2016 and it was easily their worst showing under coach Ufuk Talay, who was back in the dugout after was forced to miss the previous two games due to Covid19.

Phoenix keeper Oli Sail collapses after conceding one of six goals against City.

Scott Gardiner/Getty Images

Phoenix keeper Oli Sail collapses after conceding one of six goals against City.

The Phoenix were punished for a string of defensive fouls in their last ‘home’ game in Australia, scoring five second-half goals to tie the margin in their biggest ever loss, a 7-1 thrashing against Sydney FC in 2013.

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The game got off to a bad start when Finn Surman scored an own goal in the 17th minute to give City the half-time lead without even managing a shot on target.

Surman knew very little about it as Curtis Good’s initial header from a corner took a deflection to the back of his head and went behind for an own goal.

But the Phoenix would have considered themselves unlucky to be late at halftime as they actually had the better chances of the first half.

Ben Old had an empty net to aim for but fired wide when City goalkeeper Tom Glover was caught outside his box and his miss was costly.

Old was wide of the goal but distance was not the issue as his first shot from his weaker right foot had the power but sailed to the right.

The floodgates opened once City secured their second, with an unmarked Mathew Leckie escaping his marker, Louis Fenton, to score one of the easiest goals he will ever score with a simple tap-in at the second post in the 50th minute.

Andrew Nabbout scored City’s third goal nine minutes later, depriving Sam Sutton of possession and dribbling to score in the 59th minute.

Their fourth goal came via a corner with Good beating David Ball to the ball and sending a flying header past Sail in the 68th minute.

Phoenix midfielder Ben Old gets behind City's defense in their 6-0 loss.

Scott Gardiner/Getty Images

Phoenix midfielder Ben Old gets behind City’s defense in their 6-0 loss.

Substitute Marco Tilio added more salt to the wound by adding two more in the 76th and 81st minutes to blow up the scoreline even further.

Tilio’s first was City’s third from a corner, easily beating Olyroos team-mate Reno Piscopo after the ball fell to him nicely and he fired a shot at Sail.

Tilio completed the rout when his shot was deemed to have crossed the goal line despite Fenton’s best efforts to clear the ball.

Prior to Saturday, the Phoenix had not conceded more than four goals in three seasons since Talay took over as coach.

With another game against the Central Coast Mariners to be played on Tuesday, they hope it will be a unique game.

The big moment

The Phoenix were left behind with a costly failure midway through the first half. Old had the chance to level the score in the 34th minute when Glover was caught outside his box. Old had an empty goal to aim for but his long shot deflected to the right.

Where the game was won

The floodgates opened after City’s second goal five minutes into the second half, which was the worst of the lot. Leckie was unchecked at the far post and scored with a simple tap-in. It was also very concerning that three of the six goals City scored came from corners.

man of the match

James McGarry was one of the few Phoenix players who could hold his head high. Stung Glover gloves with a powerful strike in the first 10 minutes and almost equalized just before half-time, but no one was able to get to the end of his cross. Did not get the goal his diligent performance deserved before being substituted, but nutmeg former Premier League defender Carl Jenkinson.

The big picture

The 6-0 defeat was Phoenix’s worst since October 2016, but as bad as the result is, they remain well placed in the top six, still just one point behind Adelaide United in fourth with two games less.