Wellington Phoenix draw with Melbourne Victory

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Wellington Phoenix managed to keep Melbourne Victory at bay, ending the first leg of their A-League Men semi-final with a 0-0 draw at AAMI Park. The teams will now head to Wellington’s Sky Stadium for the decisive second leg next Saturday.

Despite Melbourne Victory taking 20 shots, only five were on target, failing to significantly challenge Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen. The Phoenix’s defense, bolstered by captain Alex Rufer’s exceptional midfield efforts, effectively minimized Victory’s scoring opportunities. Many of Victory’s shots were either from a distance or easily handled by Paulsen.

Wellington Phoenix, who enjoyed a week off after finishing second in the regular season, nearly scored early in the match. In the fourth minute, Nicholas Pennington made a promising move but his pass failed to find a teammate for the finish. Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory struggled to convert their opportunities, with their best chance coming in the 23rd minute when Bruno Fornaroli’s attempt was directly saved by Paulsen.

Victory’s coach Tony Popovic made several changes to his lineup following a tough elimination final win against Melbourne City last weekend, hoping to inject fresh energy into the team. However, Wellington’s defense remained impenetrable, maintaining their record of not having lost to Victory this season, with three draws and a loss.

Both teams will prepare for the next clash in Wellington, where the Phoenix will aim to secure their first grand final berth. The winner of this matchup will face either Central Coast or Sydney FC, with Central Coast currently leading 2-1 after their first semi-final leg.


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