Phoenix brush aside Wanderers with magical first half

A week after their 8-2 rout of Central Coast Mariners, the Phoenix had too much quality in their front line on Sunday for the Wanderers, whose late-season bid for a finals spot appears over.

The eighth-placed visitors had won three of their last four but were barely in the contest against the home side, whose committed performance appeared to be spurred by the terror attacks in Christchurch.

The goal celebrations after all three of their first-half goals were muted, with Roy Krishna setting the tone when he scored the opener from a tight angle in the 12th minute.

The Fijian striker, who is married to a devout muslim, dropped to a Sajdah prayer position to pay tribute to the 50 dead victims of a gunman’s horrific attack on two mosques on Friday.

Krishna had tweeted earlier in the day it was “Probably one of the most difficult days for us”, before leading the line impressively and notching his league-leading 15th goal of the season.

The night ended on a low note for Krishna who was sent off following two quickfire yellow cards for similar offences, when raising his arm in a challenge.

Mandi curled home a spectacular long-range free kick midway through the first half to cap the Spaniard’s best Phoenix outing before David Williams slammed home his eighth goal of the season 10 minutes later from the top of the box.

Energy drained from the match in the second half and Western Sydney rarely threatened until they were awarded a contentious penalty in the 70th minute when Max Burgess was deemed to have bundled over Bruce Kamau.

Alexander Baumjohann slammed it wide from the spot to sum up their forgettable night.

Mitchell Duke scored a consolation goal via a glancing header but it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts securing a fifth win from their last six games at Westpac Stadium.

The Phoenix cement their fourth position with five rounds remaining, sitting eight points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle to be within touching distance of a first finals berth in four seasons.