In a match that had everything, Auckland City's inspirational captain Ivan Vicelich coolly provided the winning touch three minutes into stoppage time to hand his team a super-charged 3-2 triumph over a 10-man Team Wellington at Kiwitea St yesterday.
It was the only time in the round five ASB Premiership catch-up game that the home team were in front after they had twice stared at a second loss in four days at the ground.
On the shot count, City were miles ahead but inexplicable miss after inexplicable miss - including a fluffed penalty - left them playing catch-up against a team who played the last hour one short after captain and former Auckland City player Adam McGeorge was sent off for a studs-up tackle.
Even that caused some controversy, with Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott adamant his player's foot made contact with only the ball. "Perhaps the referee was a little trigger happy," said Calcott. "I'm very, very proud of how we played. The downside is that we are almost certainly out of the playoff race."
Opposing coach Ramon Tribulietx was again frustrated by the number of chances which went begging.
"They fought really hard but when you look at it, we had five clear chances before they scored a great goal. You have to put chances like we had away."
Spanish striker Manel Exposito missed what should have been bread and butter goals for a striker of his ability. His missed penalty in the 77th minute summed up a game he will be happy to forget.
Livewire Solomon Islander Henry Fa'arodo hit a rocket on the run to stun the City faithful in the ninth minute. A fabulous low drive from Chis Bale squared it up at 1-1.
Cory Chettleburgh, with a contender for goal of the season, put the visitors back in front 11 minutes after the break. Exposito finally broke his drought in the 73rd minute, heading home a pin-point Bale cross, before Vicelich bagged the late, late winner.
The two teams meet again on Sunday in Wellington.By Terry Maddaford Email Terry