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A-League wrap: Phoenix slide steepens

Wellington Phoenix slumped to a third successive loss following a 2-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Second-half goals from Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Labinot Haliti earned the Wanderers their first win in New Zealand and cemented them in fourth place on the A-League ladder.

It was the proverbial game of two halves, with the Phoenix dominant in the first 45 minutes but unable to make their many chances count.

The Wanderers took the game to the home side in the second half and made Ricki Herbert’s side pay for their defensive lapses.

Topor-Stanley was unmarked for his low header in the 72nd minute, while Ben Sigmund was at fault for the Wanderers’ second 10 minutes later.

The central defender got in the way of goalkeeper Mark Paston as he attempted to deal with Mark Bridge’s ball into the box, which allowed Haliti to pounce and seal victory.

Also on Sunday, two goals inside the last five minutes saw Sydney FC keep their season alive as they escaped with an incredible 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart at a wet Allianz Stadium.

Sydney appeared headed for another sorry home defeat until goals to skipper Brett Emerton and defender Rhyan Grant in stoppage time stole an unlikely win.

The visitors appeared set for a third straight victory when Richard Garcia’s first-half goal gave them a well-deserved lead.

But just as it looked like Sydney had run out of ideas they struck twice in the dying stages.

First Emerton, who received an excellent through ball by Terry McFlynn, wriggled his way around three defenders in the box to slot home en equaliser with five minutes left.

And with the seconds ticking away marquee man Alessandro Del Piero produced an excellent cross which landed on the head of Grant who glanced his header underneath goal-keeper Andrew Redmayne.

Sun 13 January, 2013
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