Sydney FC 2
Wellington Phoenix 1
The Wellington Phoenix's Monday night A-League misery has continued, beaten 2-1 by Sydney FC in their round seven clash at Jubilee Stadium.
A brace from All Whites striker Kosta Barbarouses earned the two-time defending champions an eleventh win in their last fourteen meetings with the Phoenix, who, despite a late flurry, have now played twelve Monday A-League matches without notching a victory.
Not for the first time this season, Wellington created enough chances to take something from the encounter, but the lack of a cutting edge in the final third has become a worrying theme and is the main puzzle for coach Ufuk Talay to solve as he contemplates four more February outings.
After their first win of the campaign last weekend, Talay named an unchanged starting side and as has been the case in almost every game this season, his team started brightly, dominating possession, territory and scoring chances in the game's first quarter without being able to open the scoring.
Having soaked up all of Wellington's early pressure, the home side took the lead just after the half-hour, Barbarouses latching onto a precise penalty area pass from Alex Baumjohann and finishing cleverly from an acute angle with the help of the far post.
Cheered on by a sizeable group of enthusiastic countrymen in the stands, Mexican Ulises Davila was comfortably the Phoenix's most dangerous attacker, regularly finding space between the lines and involving himself in several promising moves. He also rattled Sydney's crossbar with a brilliant right-footed effort after a driving run into enemy territory early in the second half.
Playing against his former side, midfielder Cameron Devlin took an early knock but soldiered on before being replaced just before halftime. Reno Piscopo returned from injury for his first action of the season, introduced for Israeli marquee Tomer Hemed at the start of the second half.
The Phoenix pushed hard for an equaliser, but after a number of attacks went unrewarded, Barbarouses latched onto a flick-on, touched the ball past a retreating defender and produced an assured left-footed finish from outside the penalty area to double Sydney's lead. Davila provided a glimmer of hope with a deflected goal in injury time, and with the final chance of the game, substitute Louis Fenton looped a header onto the top of the crossbar.
The fact the Phoenix created enough chances to emerge with something from the contest and registered 20 shots at goal will be of little comfort to Talay, with the defeat leaving them second-bottom on the ladder with just four points from five games. They next meet the table-topping Central Coast Mariners for the second time in three weeks, in Wollongong on Sunday.
Sydney FC 2 (Barbarouses 32, 64)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Davila 90+3)