Western Sydney overcome frightening head injury to stun 10-man Wellington Phoenix
1 August, 2020, 12:11 pm
Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay has leapt to the defence of Louis Fenton after the right-back’s badly-timed challenge left Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Nicolai Muller with a suspected broken jaw.
In frightening scenes, players from both teams rushed to the German’s aid after Muller was knocked out in a horror collision in the first half of Friday night’s disappointing 1-0 defeat at Bankwest Stadium.
Fenton caught Muller late with his head and left the former Bundesliga player with a concussion and a possible fracture.
Wanderers coach Jean-Paul de Marigny felt Fenton deserved to be sent off but Talay said there was no malice in the challenge.
“Louis is not that type of player,” Talay said. “I think it was a 50-50. Maybe he was a little bit late with the challenge but the referee made a call and played on the advantage, and they had an opportunity.
“But Louis is not that type of player where he comes into the challenge with any malice.”
However, de Marigny saw it differently and was bewildered Fenton escaped with only a yellow.
“Our responsibility is to look after players, OK. The incident happened and it warrants the punishment. That’s someone else’s responsibility,” de Marigny said.
He said the serious injury soured an otherwise impressive result, which kept Wanderers’ top-six hopes alive and opened the door for Melbourne City to move clear of the Phoenix in second place. City play leaders Sydney FC on Saturday.
“He’s obviously badly concussed and I think the doctors are looking after him at the moment, and we’ll have to scan to see if there’s any fractures. But he’s not in a good place.”
Play was stopped for six minutes while Muller was attended to by medics and Talay felt the lengthy delay disrupted his team’s rhythm after a positive start to the game.
The Phoenix came agonisingly close to scoring inside the opening four minutes but David Ball’s curled effort trickled across the goal line after striking the post. It was just millimetres short.
“I’m disappointed with the result,” Talay said. “I thought we started off well and had an opportunity when Bally hit the post.
“But I think the injury caused a bit of a delay and that broke our momentum.
“I thought we came to life when we went to 10-men and I think we could have got something out of the game at the end of the day.”