Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic praised his side’s resilience against Wellington Phoenix, as they claimed a 2-0 win at Westpac Stadium.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Labinot Haliti scored in the second half for the A-League newcomers who cemented themselves in fourth place thanks to their first win on New Zealand soil.
The Phoenix could have been at least three goals up by the break had they not been denied by the woodwork and some fine saves by Wanderers custodian Ante Covic.
The Wanderers however, were more ruthless in the second spell and made the home side pay for two defensive lapses as Topor-Stanley headed home in the 72nd minute. Then Haliti pounced on a mix-up between Ben Sigmund and Mark Paston to seal the win eight minutes from time.
“We’re on a good run now and we’re in some good form,” said Popovic, whose side has now lost just once in seven matches since their defeat to Wellington in round nine.
“We’re very happy that the players responded from a very tough defeat last week against Central Coast.
“For the players to come here and respond the way they have is really pleasing for us. It’s a difficult place to come. They (Wellington) are a good side here.”
Popovic felt the match had been won in midfield where Mateo Poljak, Aaron Mooy and Iacopo La Rocca took control of the game after half-time.
“The first half was very even and it was very open,” said the Wanderers boss. “There was a little bit of they attack, we attack.
“But we got a bit of control in the midfield in the second half and once we got a hold of the midfield I felt it was only a matter of time till we got a goal.”
Wellington coach Ricki Herbert described his side’s second half performance as ‘not enough’ and lamented the lack of finishing in front of goal in the opening 45 minutes.
“The chances were there today and we weren’t ruthless enough to put the team away,” he said.
“They are a tough side, a hard team to break down, so the chances you get you’ve got to take.”
He added: “The boys gave me some stats. (There were) 20 balls into the box and we’re getting nothing from it.
“It was a great shot from Stein (Huysegems) off the bar and probably a really good save by Covic (for another Huysegems chance). You’ve got to put them in. You’ve got to put them away.”
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