Lucky Melbourne. Lucky Lucky Michael Theoklitos. He should be watching the first few games from his lounge room. He still may if the FFA decides to review the DVD of the game.
Melbourne won but it took them 9 kicks in the penalty shootout. Theoklitos saved them. But he may have been sent off in about the 50th. A free kick swung in, man-of-the-match Jon McKain connected heavily with Theoklitos and the ref blows the foul. Then Theoklitos takes the game into his own hands appearing to punch McKain once in the face and at least another one or two to the body. McKain went straight down. In the following ruckus with other players pushing and shoving, McKain goes in the book and Theoklitos gets to take the free kick.
From then on Theoklitos pulls out two great saves and stairs down Wellington in the penalties. Lucky lucky.
This match really was from the floorboards up. With the quality of defence, particularly Wellington's, out classing the attack. The strikers failed to create more than brief danger and, perhaps, made it too easy for defenders.
Jon McKain was the stand out, injured or not, he was a class above. The best for Melbourne was Evan Berger on the left. But the Costa Ricans were very quiet. Perhaps this was just an off night for Lopez? Brazilian Ney Fabiano was disappointing and too prepared to foul if he didn't get his way. He will be outsmarted by the old hands in the A-League if he keeps down that path.
The best new player was Wellington's trialist Muscat (the only one on the ground), another defender. Apart from McKain, Wellington have focused on the A-League proven talent for their off-season buying - Andrew Durante (suspended tonight) and Troy Hearfield from Newcastle, Leo Bertos from Perth Glory (the Wellington site omits this) and Adam Kwasnik (only played half a game) from CCM are real talents.
Well this was either the shape of things to come for a resurgent Wellington, or opportunities for teams with quality upfront. The trophy that got away for Wellington?