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Phoenix's unbeaten run comes to an end after close loss to Sydney in Wellington

Siem de Jong's winning goal may have come at considerable cost, as Sydney FC beat Wellington Phoenix 1-0 to maintain their push for the A-league lead.

The Sky Blues' seventh win in their past eight games lifts them within a point of Perth Glory, but coach Steve Corica's immediate concern will be the fitness of marquee man de Jong.

The former Dutch international was injured in the process of scoring his 25th-minute goal from close range, writhing for several minutes on the goal-line holding his left knee.

Corica's concerns stiffened soon afterwards, when midfielder Anthony Cacares hobbled off with an apparent calf complaint, continuing a patchy campaign for the Manchester City loanee.

It took some gloss off a disciplined display, in which they frustrated a Phoenix side, whose club-record unbeaten run ended at nine matches.

The hosts had a chance to level through a contentious penalty, awarded when Sydney defender Michael Zullo clattered into Steven Taylor.

But Roy Krishna's penalty was saved by Andrew Redmayne, preventing the in-form Phoenix striker going top in the Golden Boot race.

A draw would have flattered fifth-placed Wellington, which struggled to break down a Sydney FC defence that was vastly more structured than during the shock 3-1 loss when they met in round seven.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan surprised by resting playmaker Sarpreet Singh and his second-half introduction provided creativity, but not the goal they craved.

The return of Josh Brillante and Milos Ninkovic added class to the Sydney midfield, who held sway for long periods.

De Jong's goal came via an indirect free kick, when a sublime, stretching assist from Aaron Calver left the Dutch international to prod home from close range.

He collapsed to turf in agony in the same motion, after being clipped from behind by Andrew Durante.

Play was delayed, as the 29-year-old was treated and assisted straight down the tunnel.

Sydney were unfortunate not to be two up at the break, after Phoenix fullback Louis Fenton appeared to commit a blatant handball inside the box.

Referee Daniel Elder didn't change his initial non-penalty ruling, after viewing a replay of Fenton's clumsy efforts with a bouncing ball, to the fury of visiting coach Steve Corica.

The Phoenix camped on attack for much of the second spell, but caused Redmayne few concerns aside from the penalty, while Sydney looked dangerous on the break.

Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna contests for the ball with ethe Sydney FC players during the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 game between Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Wednesday 23rd January 2019. Copyright Photo: Raghavan Venugopal / © www.Photosport.nz 2019
Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna contests for the ball with Sydney FC players. Source: Photosport


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