Wellington’s revival continues in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) - Costa Ricans Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham combined for three first-half goals which helped propel Wellington to a 5-0 win over the Melbourne Victory, continuing its mid-season revival in the A-League.

Hernandez scored twice and Cunningham once as Wellington took a 3-0 halftime lead, then Jeremy Brockie and Belgian Stein Huysegems added goals as the Phoenix completed the second largest win in their A-League history.

After failing to take a win from its first 10 matches, Wellington has won three and drawn one of its last four to move within two points of the top six.

While Wellington has sustained its rise, Sydney FC’s season continued in freefall with a 1-0 loss to Central Coast. Sydney has won only one of its last seven games.

Defending champion Central Coast was unbeaten in its last four games and moved into third place, two points behind the Western Sydney Wanderers, who were beaten 1-0 by Adelaide on Sunday.

Marcelo Carrusca scored for Adelaide int he fourth minute and they held on to a win that lifted them to fifth place.

Brisbane remained at the top of the table, five points clear of the Wanderers, after a 0-0 draw with Perth, while the last-placed Melbourne Heart beat Newcastle 3-1 for their first win of the season, celebrating their 100th A-League match.

The Heart conceded an early goal to Taylor Regan and briefly faced the prospect of becoming the first A-League team to go 20 matches without a win. But Iain Ramsay and Mate Dugandzic scored within a minute of each other close to halftime, then Dugandzic sealed the drought-breaking win with his second in the 67th minute.

Coach John Van’t Schip said the breakthrough win was pleasing but not an excuse for wild celebration.

“Going around jumping and cheering would be a bit strange,” he said. “It’s good that we had a first win and the way we did it was important. Second half we even had chances to make it an even bigger result. Now we have to look forward.”

Sydney FC’s winless run persisted with its loss to Central Coast and it faced the prospect of ending the 15th round as low as eighth place. An evenly contested match was decided in the 58th when Mile Sterjovski’s powerful shot from 35 meters deflected off Matthew Jurman.

“It was disappointing,” Sydney coach Frank Farina said. “We played some decent stuff in patches, we could have scored ourselves just before their deflected goal. But our reaction after that, I expect more.”

Ernie Merrick, who coached the Melbourne Victory to two A-League titles before joining Wellington this season, masterminded the Phoenix’s win over his former club. Hernandez, who was also formerly with the Victory, played the key on-field role in Wellington’s emphatic win, though surprisingly he was subbed in the 50th.

Striker Besart Berisha was sent off in the 30th of Brisbane’s match with Perth but the Roar, reduced to 10 men for the second straight week, held on to share a 0-0 draw.

“I’m very happy with the performance,” coach Mike Mulvey said. “But I’m actually disappointed we didn’t get the three points and that probably speaks volumes about how we played.”

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