2020-21 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Naoki Tsubaki (58')
  • Jamie Maclaren (81')
  • Tomer Hemed (37' PEN, 88')

Melbourne City slump to draw with Wellington Phoenix in A-League

Melbourne City spurned a golden chance to edge closer to the A-League Premier's Plate, slipping to a 2-2 draw against Wellington Phoenix.

City came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 courtesy of Jamie Maclaren's brilliant free kick but Wellington's Tomer Hemed scored a brace, including a late equaliser to salvage a point.

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Patrick Kisnorbo made six changes to the team that beat Adelaide United on Thursday, with Connor Metcalfe wearing the captain's armband for the first time and Maclaren among five regular starters benched.

City are nine points clear of second-placed Central Coast with four games to go but Kisnorbo didn't rue his wholesale changes or testing a different formation early in the game.

"I don't regret anything," Kisnorbo said. "We had a short turnaround - there were some players that needed to be rested.

He added: "I wanted to see and try something [formation-wise] -- it didn't work to the way I wanted it but we had one day to prepare. So it's a learning curve for me to try and improve that and see how it works again, maybe."

Wellington were without skipper Ulises Davila (hamstring) but took the upper hand against an under-strength City filled with fringe and young players

The Phoenix took the lead in the 37th minute when Ben Garuccio clipped Louis Fenton in the area and Hemed stepped up and slotted the penalty. City hit back in the 58th minute when Marco Tilio pinched the ball from Joshua Laws and squared it for Naoki Tsubaki to tap home.

City called upon Maclaren in the 60th minute and he looked set to be the hero 21 minutes later. Adrian Luna was brought down by Reno Piscopo just outside the area and Maclaren curled a delightful free kick around the Wellington wall.

But seven minutes later, David Ball put in a cross from the right and Hemed equalised with a brilliant acrobatic volley. The Israel international, who had celebrated his first goal by draping an Israeli flag from supporters in the crowd around himself, received a yellow card for his celebration for his second goal.

Hemed pulled a kippah (skullcap) -- which had been taped to his shoulder -- out from under his shirt and put it on, then put one hand over his face. FIFA rules dictate a player must be cautioned for covering the head or face with mask or similar item.

Wellington coach Ufuk Talay said he hadn't seen Hemed's celebration, but expected it to be looked at.

"It's hard for me to comment on," he said. "I'm sure we'll look at it as a club and the federation will look at it as well. But look, at the end of the day I can't control once the players are on the field, what they do."

In injury time, Metcalfe missed two late chances to be the hero smacking one shot onto the post before a loose touch cost him a tap-in.