Perth Glory 3
Wellington Phoenix 0
A depleted Wellington Phoenix have been beaten 3-0 by table-toppers Perth Glory in their A-League football clash in Western Australia.
But even at full strength, the Phoenix may well have struggled to contain a home side who demonstrated exactly why they're perched proudly at the top of the ladder.
In particular, 36-year-old Spanish playmaker Diego Castro was in sublime form, showcasing his full range of audacious tricks and skills. With Socceroos star Chris Ikonomidis and Irish marksman Andy Keogh joining him in a potent three-pronged attack, Glory dominated the first half and provided the game's key moments before the break.
Already missing captain Andrew Durante through suspension, Wellington also lost fellow defender Steven Taylor who fell ill on matchday, while Spanish midfielder Mandi has returned to New Zealand where his wife is about to give birth. Dylan Fox and Ryan Lowry earned starts alongside Tom Doyle in a three-man central defence with Michal Kopczynski joining Alex Rufer in midfield.
After his superhuman performance against Melbourne City a week ago, Wellington goalkeeper Filip Kurto was again to the fore, producing several quality saves to keep a rampant Perth at bay. The best of his stops saw him flying full length to his left to claw Castro's precise 18th minute free-kick around the post, but from the resulting corner, Shane Lowry powered home a header to open the scoring.
Glory doubled their lead ten minutes before the break with Castro again involved. His goalbound volley was parried by Kurto, but only into the path of Ikonomidis who calmly nodded in from close range.
The game almost began in sensational fashion with Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy's sloppy pass in just the second minute seized upon by stand-in captain Roy Krishna who squared the ball to David Williams in a handy position. His first shot was blocked before he crashed a second against the crossbar. It was to be Wellington's best opportunity of the game.
The Phoenix were better after the interval, spending longer periods in Perth's half without creating many clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. Meantime, Ikonomidis struck the woodwork on the hour before Keogh put the contest beyond doubt, sliding home a precise right-footed shot from 25 yards to notch his 50th A-League goal.
The loss ended a five-game unbeaten away streak for the Phoenix, who will have to regroup quickly for a crucial visit to the Newcastle Jets on Thursday evening. While Wellington still sit in the sixth playoff spot with a handy buffer over the chasing pack, defeat to the Jets would close that gap to just five points with nine games still to play.
Perth Glory 3 (Lowry, Ikonomidis, Keogh)
Wellington Phoenix 0