Departing coach Mark Rudan believes Wellington Phoenix were the masters of their own downfall in Melbourne Victory’s 3-1 Elimination Final triumph.
Rudan oversaw his final game from the Phoenix dugout as the New Zealand club went behind to goals from Georg Niedermeier and Kosta Barbarouses at AAMI Park.
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Hyundai A-League Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna gave the Nix hope but marquee Sweden international Ola Toivonen booked Victory’s place in the final four, before Michal Kopczynski saw a red card late on.
Rudan claims individual errors in the lead up to each goal opened the door for Victory, leaving Wellington to rue a missed opportunity to make their first Semi-Final since 2011.
“Our three mistakes cost us, simple as that,” said Rudan.
“It wasn’t a well worked move or [Victory] creating anything out of their quality.
“If was from our naivety, our inexperience at times and our mistakes.
“A lot of these guys haven’t played finals football. It’s a different beast all together, particularly away from home against a team like Melbourne.
“You’ve got to give [Victory] credit because they were able to counter on both occasions and score.
“I’m extremely proud of my players and the performance we put in as well. Certain mistakes cost us and that’s it.”
Rudan paid tribute to the club, his players and the Nix supporters and insists the future is bright in Wellington.
“This club I’ll forever be grateful for, they gave me my first opportunity. I’ll never forget that,” he added.
“These players have given me everything and the fans have been superb as well.
“It’s been tough times. I knew the history behind the club, I knew how hard it was for the club as well. If anyone questions the existence of this football club, I think you’re kidding yourself in terms of what we can do, and what we’ve done this season.
“There’s a platform there to build one and I’m sure it’s going to continue to go upwards.”
Victory coach Kevin Muscat heaped praise on his star striker Toivonen, whose goal clinched a Semi-Final ‘Big Blue’ encounter against Sydney FC next Sunday.
“His finish was outstanding,” Muscat said.
“You could see he was waiting for Elvis [Kamsoba], to square that ball. He took a touch, waiting for Elvis to come. Then his finish was remarkable.
“Ola has been getting better and better and this was a really strong performance from him.”
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