Soccer: Dadi bags double in impressive debut

By Paul Lewis

A-League
Wellington Phoenix 3
Brisbane Roar 1

There's an old Spike Milligan joke which goes: "How do you make a Maltese Cross? Stick a lit match in his ear."

A Maltese Cross, for the uninitiated, is the eight-sided cross used as an emblem by the St John's Ambulance, among others, and which has strong connections to courage and religious links as well.

The Phoenix's Manny Muscat is from the tiny state of Malta, by extraction (he was born in Australia) but he was far from cross last night.

In fact, it was a (Maltese) cross by Muscat which somehow found its way through a tangle of Brisbane Roar defenders to the surprised head of Tim Brown, who ducked into it and steered it neatly into the net.

It was Brown's sixth goal of the season and reward for a well-timed run into the goalmouth - but the most remarkable thing about the goal was that it came from Muscat's winger-like run and cross.

If Muscat will forgive us, he has not always been seen as the sort of marauder who regularly gallops up the flanks, swinging in dangerous crosses, let alone Maltese ones. Yet that is precisely what a delighted Muscat did and that was precisely why coach Ricki Herbert signed him. It must be satisfying to see potential being realised.

It was against the run of play and the Maltese cross and Brown's careful header swung a game which had looked more likely to be the Roar's up to that stage.

Muscat played his first internationals for Malta last year - against the Czech Republic and a World Cup qualifier against Sweden but, if it was a Maltese cross that got things going, the match was won with a daddy of a goal.

Or should that be a Dadi of a goal? New striker Eugene Dadi grabbed two in a class debut but the Ivory Coast striker will be forever remembered by the Phoenix's fevered supporters for that classic, clinical overhead kick which made it 2-0 and completely punctured the Roar's hopes.

The Brisbane men had come out for the second half at a, well, roar - only 1-0 down. They dominated the opening segments of the second half and things looked a little ashen for the Phoenix - until that glorious Dadi strike. They'll be calling him Dadi Cool now.

The Roar were The Laryngitis after that - and Dadi rocked up soon after to tuck his second away after combining with Paul Ifill. The finish was smooth and controlled and, for Phoenix fans, carried with it the promise of more Dadi delights to come in forthcoming fixtures.

It was remarkable because the Roar have always been a bogey side for the Phoenix. They had never beaten them in eight previous games. It also meant that the Phoenix are right back on track to make the top six for the playoffs.

On this kind of display, they deserve to - even though the Roar finally found their voice and got one back through Sergio van Dijk. He turned and shot altogether too quickly for a Phoenix defence trying to maintain its dignity. After the goal, keeper Liam Reddy was booked after jostling with the Roar's Reinaldo - all highly unnecessary.

But it wasn't representative of this game. The talk will all be of the big impact Dadi made - Big Dadi? He looks like another canny Herbert signing.

But the win was made in Malta and sparked by a cross.

And not a lit match in sight.

- Herald on Sunday

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