Mark Rudan was too emotional to talk about the latest win for his Wellington Phoenix, saying the 3-1 win over Western Sydney had little meaning in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.
A teary Rudan ended his media conference after two questions, taking little joy from a dominant performance from his fourth-placed team at Westpac Stadium that lifts them within touching distance of a finals berth.
A week after the delight of an 8-2 rout of Central Coast, Rudan was downcast and his players muted in their celebration of all three first-half goals.
There was little cheer either for the eighth-placed Wanderers, who had won three of their last four but whose faint finals hopes appear to have been extinguished.
Despite his team producing one of their best performances of the season, Australian Rudan didn’t want to touch on any analysis.
He was sickened by Friday’s attack in which a gunman claimed 50 lives at two mosques.
“It’s shaken everybody up at the club. It’s shaken up me and my players,” Rudan said.
“It’s not what this country’s about. It’s a great country. This world doesn’t deserve something like that.
“It was important that we played our part and that was for the victims and their families and the whole country. Because the whole country’s mourning.”
Roy Krishna set the tone when he scored the opener from a tight angle in the 12th minute.
The Fijian striker, who is married to a devout muslim, dropped to a Sajdah prayer position to pay a personal tribute.
Krishna had tweeted earlier in the day it was “Probably one of the most difficult days for us”, before leading the line impressively and notching his league-leading 15th goal of the season.
The night ended on a low note for Krishna who was sent off following two quickfire yellow cards for similar offences, when raising his arm in a challenge.
Mandi curled home a spectacular long-range free kick midway through the first half to cap the Spaniard’s best Phoenix outing before David Williams slammed home his eighth goal of the season 10 minutes later from the top of the box.
Energy drained from the match in the second half and Western Sydney rarely threatened until they were awarded a contentious penalty in the 70th minute when Max Burgess was deemed to have bundled over Bruce Kamau.
Alexander Baumjohann slammed it wide from the spot to sum up their forgettable night.
Mitchell Duke scored a consolation goal via a glancing header but it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts securing a fifth win from their last six games at Westpac Stadium.
The Phoenix cement their fourth position with five rounds remaining, sitting eight points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle.