Wellington Phoenix fume over handball howler in controversial Melbourne City defeat

Phoenix players plead with referee Ben Abraham after he incorrectly awarded City a penalty.

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Phoenix players plead with referee Ben Abraham after he incorrectly awarded City a penalty.

Wellington Phoenix have been left enraged by a shocking referee howler in their 3-2 defeat to Melbourne City.

Phoenix players were stunned when the Video Assistant Referee upheld an incorrect hand ball decision midway through the second half.

Referee Ben Abraham, who was officiating his first A-League match, awarded City a penalty despite Denis Genreau’s cross blatantly hitting the chest of Louis Fenton.

Craig Noone celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot.

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Craig Noone celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot.

Fenton immediately assured his Phoenix team-mates that the decision would be overturned by VAR. 

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However, in farcical circumstances, VAR upheld the decision to award a penalty to City and Craig Noone successfully converted the spot kick to seal his side’s third consecutive win.

The decision left the Phoenix incensed. Before the penalty was taken Fenton was up on the halfway line pleading his case to the fourth official.

He let rip in a post match interview with Fox Sports.

Reno Piscopo is chopped down by Craig Noone.

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Reno Piscopo is chopped down by Craig Noone.

“It doesn’t even f…ing hit my hand. It’s f…ed,” he said.

Noone’s penalty was the third goal City scored at AAMI Park on Sunday, after surprise starter Gary Hooper scored his first A-League goal to give the Phoenix the early lead.

All signs pointed to Hooper starting the match from the bench, having played just 15 minutes against Perth Glory last weekend, but with the Phoenix so desperate for points he played the first 45 minutes instead.

That was still sufficient time for the former Celtic and Norwich City striker to score, popping up at the far post to nod Reno Piscopo’s corner into an empty net.

But the Phoenix’s lead did not last long.

Gary Hooper is swarmed by Phoenix team-mates after scoring his first goal for the club.

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Gary Hooper is swarmed by Phoenix team-mates after scoring his first goal for the club.

Galloway produced an early contender for goal of the season by cutting in from right-back and launching a rocket past Stefan Marinovic.

The former Phoenix right-back’s goal came just four minutes after Connor Metcalfe split two defenders and headed in the equaliser.

Hooper and Piscopo started ahead of Jaushua Sotirio and Callum McCowatt but both first-time starters were replaced at halftime.

Ben Waine pulled one back for the Phoenix in stoppage time, the schoolboy also scoring his first-ever A-League goal. It should have been the equaliser which secured the Phoenix their first point of the season. But VAR.

Melbourne City 3 (Connor Metcalfe 30′, Scott Galloway 34′, Craig Noone pen-63′) Wellington Phoenix 2 (Gary Hooper 24′, Ben Waine 90+3) 

 

 

HT: 2-1