14 Mar 2010

Phoenix fairytale comes to an end in controversial match in Sydney

6:43 am on 14 March 2010

Sydney FC booked a spot in the A-League grand final with a controversial, but ultimately convincing, 4-2 win over the Wellington Phoenix in the major semi-final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Sky Blues will face arch-rivals Melbourne in next Saturday's decider at Ethihad Stadium after ending the Phoenix's fairytale run in front of a disappointing home crowd of just over 13,000.

The Teenage reserve Chris Payne, who went on after an early injury to John Aloisi, scored twice before Sydney's "killer Bs" Alex Brosque and Mark Bridge sealed the win with a goal each in the second half.

The Wellington substitute Eugene Dadi added a late consolation goal to captain Andrew Durante's first-half effort, but the Phoenix couldn't muster the magic they had shown to reach the major semi-final against all expectations.

The match was not without controversy, Payne finding himself the centre of a handball debacle reminiscent of Diego Maradona's 'hand of God' and more recently Thierry Henry's 'hand of Frog" goal.

With scores locked at 1-1, the young striker put Sydney in front after 30 minutes with a goal that appeared to find the back off the net off his forearm.

Referee Peter Green let the goal stand, much to the disbelief of the Phoenix players and their coach Ricki Herbert, who was visibly angry at halftime.

But Sydney cancelled any doubts they weren't deserving of a shot at adding the Championship to their Premiers Plate with a sublime second-half performance.