THE star that is Shinji Ono shone bright on Parramatta Stadium as the Japanese international almost single-handedly beat Melbourne Victory with a two-goal haul on Tuesday night.
Backed by the team's trademark defensive powerhouse, Ono's class in the midfield proved too hot for the Victory, extending Western Sydney's unbeaten streak to five with a 2-1 win and helped it leapfrog Melbourne to third on the A-League ladder.
The first-half pressure eventually took its toll on Victory when Ono scored his third goal of the season in front of 13,659 boisterous fans.
Ono hit the ball through the legs of Victory skipper Adrian Leijer and then watched it go past a lunging Nathan Coe to sink in the back of the net in the 42nd minute.
But it was his second goal in the 79th minute, with the scores level, that showed his class when he faded, turned and hit the top right of the net to score the match winner before coming from the field five minutes later with an ankle strain.
Coach Tony Popovic said the injury would not keep him out of the clash against Central Coast on Sunday.
"They were two great goals," Popovic said.
"He is a special player. He has been a special player since he first arrived and we saw from the first moment the talent he has.
"It just took time to get his match fitness and condition to show what he did for longer periods."
Western Sydney's 1-0 half-time lead could have easily been much more, had it capitalised on numerous opportunities.
Ono had a chance to snatch the lead after just two minutes, when he mistimed a one-on-one shot with keeper Coe. Mark Bridge sprayed a shot wide after a goal-scoring opportunity cross from Youssouf Hersi in the eighth minute.
The Wanderers kept searching for that opening goal and went close thanks to a long strike from Iacopo La Rocca only for Coe to stop it in the bottom right of his net.
Melbourne wasn't without chances, its best coming off a cross from international Archie Thompson's boot to Marco Rojas. But the ball landed easily in Ante Covic's hands.
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou said his side had moved away from its strengths.
"We've got certain basic principles that we've been good at following," Postecoglou said.
"We didn't follow the basic fundamentals and we got punished for it.
"We could have got something out of the game but I don't think it really would have given us any optimism about our progress."
The Victory had to wait until Spase Dilevski's inclusion to score its only goal, with the bench player taking just two minutes to make his presence felt with a strike from outside the box to level the scores in the 72nd minute.
Popovic praised his team's comeback.
"The boys did really well to come through it after they equalised," Popovic said.
"You get a little nervous on the side hoping the players don't go into their shell."
The away side lost Gui Finkler after just 10 minutes with a serious knee injury and was lucky to retain the services of Adama Traore, who followed up his yellow card in the 21st minute with an audacious challenge on an attacking Hersi which resulted in a free kick in the first half.
Western Sydney's win helped avenge its 2-0 loss to the Victory in November.