Phoenix ruin Del Piero debut
Wellington Phoenix have ensured Alessandro Del Piero's A-League debut ended in disappointment with a convincing 2-0 win over Sydney FC on Saturday.
Instead, it was the Phoenix's debutants, Belgian Stein Huysegems and Wellington teenager Louis Fenton, who found themselves on the score sheet as the Phoenix dominated at Westpac Stadium.
All the talk in Australia has centred on the arrival of Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono, allowing Huysegems, rising star Fenton and the Phoenix to fly under the radar.
But Huysegems showed some good touches as a target man, while Fenton ran hard at Sydney for 77 minutes and fully deserved his goal before being replaced by another of the Phoenix's youngster in Tyler Boyd.
Wellington dominated from the start and created a plethora of chances, particularly in the first half when they hit the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed before Huysegems scored the opener two minutes before the break.
The Belgian had already headed one wide and hit the woodwork by the time he gathered Manny Muscat's ball over the top and calmly finished past Ivan Necevski.
But the home side could easily have been four goals up by that point.
Alex Smith forced a good save from Necevski in the 12th minute after he rose above the defence to head goal-ward.
Fenton and fellow debutant Benjamin Totori then both had good chances.
Fenton's long-range effort was saved by Necevski, while Totori hit the woodwork after some neat interplay between Jeremy Brockie and Huysegems in the box.
Huysegems then rattled the upright before Andrew Durante had a goal disallowed in the 32nd minute when Ben Sigmund impeded the Sydney goalkeeper, allowing his captain to head home.
Sydney's chances were few and far between in the first half, although Del Piero showed his pedigree with some skilful touches that wrong-footed the Phoenix defence, but Joel Chianese and Terry Antonis couldn't make them count.
In the 14th minute the Italian easily worked his way past Muscat but then blazed his shot well over the bar.
Late in the first half, Trent McClenahan got on the end of a Del Piero corner-kick but nodded his diving effort wide before Kruno Lovrek headed astray from a free-kick by the former Juventus superstar.
Sydney pressed forward at the start of the second half looking for a breakthrough but they still couldn't find a way through the Phoenix wall and Mark Paston was rarely called into action.
Antonis and Lovrek were replaced by Yairo Yau and Ali Abbas on the hour but it made little difference.
Necevski though, was kept busy.
Paul Ifill had been on the pitch barely a minute when he shot on the turn and the keeper only just got his feet in the way of the goal-bound effort.
The Phoenix then had a series of corners but couldn't capitalise.
Sydney's day was summed up when Chianese's shot was fumbled by Paston but Abbas fired his attempt straight at the keeper who was sat on the ground.
The Phoenix made the game safe in the 75th minute when Muscat dispossessed Del Piero and fired a pin-point ball into the box which a diving Fenton headed home before running to celebrate with the crowd.
Del Piero almost conjured up a late consolation but having beaten his man he curled his shot just wide as Phoenix won easily.
Bet365 Man Of The Match: Stein Huysegems
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Huysegems 43, Louis Fenton 75)
Sydney FC 0
Crowd: 12,057 at Westpac Stadium