Favourites Melbourne City had a gritty 1-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix in their A-League opener on Saturday night, at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, despite losing goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen to a red card.
Anthony Caseras had opened the scoring with a 31st minute goal and City continued to dominate during the first half with 11 shots at goal.
But the match changed considerably in the 59th minute after Sorensen was dismissed for handling outside his area. Phoenix striker Roy Krishna threaded the ball pass an onrushing Sorensen, which was deemed to have hit his arm.
From then on, a 10-man City clung on for dear life. Phoenix who were missing Kosta Barbarouses, Andrew Durante, Michael McGlinchey, Louis Fenton and Matt Ridenton to Caltex Socceroos duty as well as an injured Tom Doyle, still couldn’t get past Dean Bouzanis, who made several important saves.
“We tried to put a squad together that has competition in every position including the goalkeeper position,” said City coach John van’t Schip.
“Dean Bouzanis had to come in (to the game) in very difficult circumstances and he showed immediately he’s up to it.
“The competition is there. Anthony (Caceres) was not playing two weeks ago against Western Sydney and now he’s playing.
“Players have to perform in a good way without feeling the pressure that every game is an exam. It’s a good thing to have players that can compete with each other.
“For now it’s just important we have the three points,” the Dutchman continued.
Victory will now face City in the highly anticipated Melbourne derby at Etihad stadium this Saturday. Sorensen will be missing through a one match suspension, but van’t Schip will have the benefit of having Tim Cahill back on board, who is no stranger to derby’s.
But at this stage it’s unclear if Cahill will start after returning on a long flight from Jeddah, where he’s played in both Socceroos’ matches.