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Phoenix snatch A-L draw against Wanderers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Vince Lia of the Phoenix (second right) beats Dimas Delgado of the Wanderers to a header. © David Rowland/AAP Image Vince Lia of the Phoenix (second right) beats Dimas Delgado of the Wanderers to a header. Wellington Phoenix have clawed their way back from a two-goal second-half deficit to secure a 2-2 draw with the Western Sydney Wanderers in Auckland.

A measured opening 45 minutes on Saturday night transformed into a barnstorming second stanza at Mt Smart Stadium as both sides attacked with abandon and sought a much-needed three points.

Falling behind to a Brendon Santalab stunner and Mitch Nichols effort, the Nix will be pleased to come away with a point after nabbing a Gui Finkler penalty and Roy Krishna header.

The Wanderers, meanwhile, will wonder what might have been after missing a penalty through skipper Dimas and a host of late chances to win.

The result sees the former Asian champions drop from sixth to seventh after Newcastle's victory on Friday night, while the Phoenix remain in eighth on 10 points.

Boosted by their win over the lowly Mariners last week, the Phoenix dominated proceedings early on in Auckland and distributed the ball around the park with aplomb.

Fullback Jacob Tratt went inches wide with a glancing header in the fourth minute, while winger Kosta Barbarouses looked lively on the right flank.

But it was the Wanderers who broke the deadlock with a goal-of-the-season contender from stalwart Santalab in the 19th minute.

Dimas delivered an out-swinging corner from the right, which fell perfectly for Santalab to scissor-kick past a stranded Glen Moss.

A more even match ensued after Santalab's effort, as both sides struggled to convert some slick passing into genuine scoring opportunities.

Finkler went inches wide after latching on to a Krishna knock-down in the 33rd minute before two wasted opportunities for Wanderers marquee Nico Martinez rounded out the half.

Ahead 1-0 at the start of the second half, Wanderers playmaker Nichols doubled his side's lead in the 56th minute with a measured finish under Moss.

A Finkler penalty, his first goal for the club, reduced the arrears four minutes later before Dimas missed his own chance to score from 12 yards after an Andrew Durante foul.

The Wanderers captain, usually reliable from the spot, produced a limp 62nd-minute penalty that rolled safely into the arms of Moss.

The game had turned into a box-to-box affair in a matter of minutes, and Italian defender Marco Rossi saved his side's bacon by clearing a Nichols effort off the line 60 seconds later.

Krishna then completed his side's comeback in the 68th minute with a controversial equaliser, jumping above Clisby to head home after a clear Barbarouses handball.

Wanderers opportunities to Nichols, substitute Jumpei and Martinez went to waste soon after, then an 86th-minute penalty shout for a Finkler shove was waved away.

Clisby had a final chance to secure three points for his side, but shot wide of the right post as both sides went home with a point.

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