Adelaide United’s four-match winning streak has ended after a 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium in wet and windy conditions on Sunday.
Nikola Mileusnić’s stunning opener was cancelled out by David Ball and a contentious penalty from Ulises Davila.
Al Hassan Toure and Ben Halloran returned to the starting XI as Gertjan Verbeek made two changes to the side that defeated Melbourne Victory last weekend.
Paul Izzo was called into action inside the opening minute when he palmed away Reno Piscopo’s free header after connecting with Jaushua Sotirio’s cross.
That early chance was symptomatic of the Reds’ slow start to the contest.
Adelaide’s usually slick combination play was largely found wanting as several misplaced passes and poor first-touches prevented any chance of maintaining consistent possession to apply pressure on Wellington’s defence.
Just past the half hour mark, the referee pointed to the spot for a foul by Michael Jakobsen on Sotirio.
However, the initial decision was revised to a free-kick by the VAR after replays clearly showed the contact was outside the area.
In the 38th minute, Izzo raced off his line to deny Sotirio who was bearing down on goal.
It would remain scoreless heading into the sheds in what was a rather scrappy 45 minutes from Adelaide who never really clicked into gear.
Verbeek made a double change at the interval in search of a spark with Kristian Opseth and George Blackwood summoned at the expense of Toure and Halloran.
Blackwood nearly made an impact when Nikola Mileusnić threaded a pass for him to latch on to and his left-footed finish deflected into the side netting.
But on 57 minutes the hosts would finally break the deadlock in what can only be described as a goal out of nothing.
Riley McGree headed a throw-in to Mileusnić and his speculative chest and volley attempt, on his weaker left foot, flew into the top corner.
Parity was restored 10 minutes later, when Ball turned in Sotirio’s low cut-back.
And the Phoenix would find themselves in front in contentious circumstances when Davila converted a penalty. Liberato Cacace went down under the faintest of contact from Blackwood but the decision was surprisingly upheld by the VAR and referee.
United pushed for an equaliser without success as the Reds suffered their first loss against the New Zealand outfit since November 2015.
38’ | SAVE! Izzo rushed off his line with Sotirio played in one-on-one, but the goalkeeper smothers the forward’s attempt.
57’ | GOAL! Miluensić chest McGree’s header from the throw-in and dispatches a beautiful volley into the far corner from the side of the 18-yard box.
67’ | GOAL: Ball meets Sotirio’s cross with Izzo unable to react in time to keep it out.
71’ | GOAL: Davila dispatches a controversial spot-kick after minimal contact on Cacace.
Sunday, 1 December 2019
Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season – Round 8
Adelaide United 1 (Mileusnić 57’)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ball 67’ Davila (P) 71’)
Venue: Coopers Stadium