Berisha gives Western United inaugural win over Phoenix
Western United defeated Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in their inaugural Hyundai A-League clash thanks to Besart Berisha's first-half strike.
The competition's all-time top-scorer tallied United's first-ever goal in the 34th minute by pouncing on Josh Risdon's cross from close-range.
United, based in Melbourne's western suburbs, become the fifth team in Hyundai A-League history to win their inaugural league fixture.
Wellington, on the other hand, have now won just two of their previous 15 opening round matches.
The Kiwis showed plenty of toil and promise, with David Ball displaying a few moments of class, in Ufuk Talay's first league match at the helm. But Phoenix could not break down the visitors stubborn defence despite pressure mounting late on.
Instead, the new kids on the block celebrate gaining their first-ever Hyundai A-League win, with Mark Rudan masterminding that victory against the club he coached last season, before walking out to join the competition's inaugural club.
Talay handed seven Phoenix starting debuts for the visit of United, including a two-man frontline of Jaushua Sotirio and David Ball. New captain Steven Taylor, meanwhile, was partnered with Luke DeVere in the heart of defence.
Rudan named a back three of Connor Chapman, Andrew Durante and Ersan Gulum on his return to Westpac Stadium, as Berisha led the line alongside ex-Caltex Socceroo Scott McDonald. 17-cap Italy international Alessandro Diamanti was stationed in behind.
Ball, Cacace go close for Wellington
Ball came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening stages, taking down a long ball from Taylor inside his man with an exquisite first touch, but his flick over Filip Kurto was wayward.
Ball and Alex Rufer saw snapshots blocked off by desperate United defending, while Liberato Cacace's long-range strike forced a good save from Kurto.
Berisha scores Western United's first goal
Who else? The Hyundai A-League's arch-marksman scored his 117th competition goal, and Western United's very first, to give the inaugural club the lead 10 minutes before half time.
The goal was brilliantly constructed: Connor Pain's cross was pinged back into the centre by Risdon, leaving Berisha to pounce from underneath the crossbar.
Rufer heads over as Phoenix chase equaliser
A big chance for Phoenix to equalise. Callum McCowatt rifled a cross to the back post for an unmarked Rufer, who was unable to adjust to the pace of the ball and headed over the crossbar.
Marinovic denies McDonald
The All Whites and Phoenix number one Marinovic didn't have much to do on his first outing for the Kiwis, but denied McDonald in spectacular fashion late on.
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