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Phoenix’s extra-time defeat to Melbourne Victory ends record-breaking season

Phoenix v Victory news

The Wellington Phoenix’s A-League season concluded in heartbreak as they suffered a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Melbourne Victory in their semi-final second leg game in Wellington.

The game seemed destined to end in regulation time, but an Oskar Zawada goal in the ninth minute of added time gave the home side a lifeline.

It was a night of frustration for the Phoenix and their fans, who had hoped for their first-ever grand final appearance. Despite dominating the match, Victory took the lead against the run of play in the 81st minute when Adama Traore scored with a long-range shot.

The Phoenix had controlled all aspects of the game but struggled to find the net until Zawada’s goal, which extended the contest by another 30 minutes. The home side had a golden opportunity to go ahead in the 61st minute, but captain Alex Rufer’s penalty was saved by Victory keeper Paul Izzo.

The excitement of the equaliser was short-lived for local fans, as Victory substitute Chris Ikonomidis scored from a corner in the first half of extra time. Despite the Phoenix’s continued pressure and good scoring positions, they couldn’t find a second equalizer.

The match was there for the taking, with the Phoenix dominating the play but not the score sheet. Influential Phoenix midfielder Ben Old threatened Victory’s goal on numerous occasions, even hitting the woodwork during one of many attacks.

Kosta Barbarouses came close in the first half, but his shot was saved by the Victory keeper. Ultimately, it was Traore and then Ikonomidis who dashed the hopes of the sold-out crowd.

Although Victory spent much of the game on the back foot, they made their chances count and will now compete for a fifth A-League title against either Central Coast Mariners or Sydney FC.

The Phoenix’s record season ended in disappointment. Despite their highest-ever finish in the regular season, most points, and most wins, they failed to challenge for their first title. The first leg in Melbourne last weekend had finished 0-0.

Friday’s match was declared a sell-out, with a final attendance figure of 33,297. The other semi-final features minor premiers Central Coast Mariners leading 2-1 against Sydney FC after the first leg.

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