Phoenix secure finals berth

The Phoenix have beaten Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 in Sydney to secure the sixth and final playoff berth with a match to spare in the 2021/22 A-League season.

A sublime goal from Phoenix midfielder Reno Piscopo was the difference between the two sides after the match was level at 1-1 at half-time.

Gael Sandoval and Reno Piscopo celebrate a goal
Photo: AAP / www.photosport.nz

Left back Sam Sutton gave the Phoenix an early lead with his first goal for the club before former Wellington forward Tomer Hemed equalised for Western Sydney in the 29th minute.

It’s the second time in three seasons Ufuk Talay has guided the Phoenix to the finals, despite being forced to play away from home for the best part of two years.

“Very happy with the outcome for tonight,” Talay told media post-match. “I’m very pleased for the group, I’m very pleased for my staff and I’m very pleased for the club at the same time.

“We’ve got some great owners that have sacrificed a lot of things financially for us to be here. And I’m very pleased for the families and the fans back home as well.

“It’s been a challenging two seasons. Last year we came very close and just missed out but this year we’ve made it into the top six and now we look forward.”

Talay is relieved they don’t have to rely on Sydney FC dropping points in their final two games to make the finals.

“I’m glad that we did it on our own and won the game tonight and didn’t rely on other results to go our own way.

“I wanted us to be able to write and use our own pen, rather than rely on someone else’s pen to choose our fate and our destiny.

“I’m very glad and very pleased for the group that they did it tonight and got the three points that we needed.”

The Nix closed out the game professionally in second-half stoppage time to remain unbeaten in all 15 matches they’ve scored first this season (12 wins and three draws).

The Wellington Phoenix have now qualified for the playoffs in seven of 15 seasons, and will round out their regular season campaign by visiting Premiers’ Plate chasing Melbourne City on Monday night before an elimination final against a yet to be determined opponent.

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