A-League: Phoenix Men Extend Lead, Women Face Tough Defeat

Despite missing key players, Wellington Phoenix secured a 2-1 victory against Macarthur FC, maintaining a five-point lead in the men’s A-League. Kosta Barbarouses’ brace secured the win, marking his 10th goal this season and tying him with A-League legend Archie Thompson as the fifth-highest goal scorer in men’s A-League history.

The absence of regulars like Tim Payne, Sam Sutton, Bozhidar Kraev, Nicholas Pennington, and captain Alex Rufer, who withdrew during the warm-up, did not deter Phoenix. Coach Giancarlo Italiano emphasized the team’s collective strength, praising the players’ mentality and adaptability to unforeseen challenges.

Italiano made four enforced changes to the starting XI, with Scott Wootton leading in Rufer’s absence. Despite the adjustments, the team’s performance highlighted their resilience and commitment.

The win solidified Phoenix’s position at the top of the table, five points ahead of Central Coast Mariners and eight points above third-placed Macarthur. Italiano expressed pride in the team’s ability to stay focused amid adversity.

In contrast, the Phoenix women faced a significant defeat, losing 3-0 to Western United in Melbourne. Missing nine frontline players due to international commitments and injuries, the under-strength Phoenix women now stand ninth on the A-League ladder, four points outside the top six. Despite the setback, coach Gemma Lewis remains optimistic about their playoff chances.

The Wellington Phoenix will have a two-week break before their next A-League match against Melbourne Victory, as the league pauses for the FIFA international window. The break offers an opportunity for recovery and preparation as both the men’s and women’s teams gear up for the challenges ahead in the A-League campaign.

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