Wellington Phoenix exacted sweet revenge for their round four defeat by Melbourne Victory with a crushing win at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Outplayed and defeated 3-2 at AAMI Park in November, the Phoenix returned the favour in spades over third-placed Victory, in the process extending their unbeaten run to five games. It was just their second home victory of the season, and takes them to within two points of sixth place and the play-offs after going without a win for the first 10 games.
The battle for midfield dominance was intense right from the first whistle, and Wellington were the first to break through in the 18th minute when Vince Lia slipped a tantalising pass through to the edge of the box. Young striker Tyler Boyd, who earned a start at the expense of the out-of-touch Jeremy Brockie, let the ball run and Carlos Hernandez slotted home under the diving Nathan Coe to put the Phoenix in front.
Melbourne looked disorganised in the front third on the rare occasions they found themselves on attack, and a succession of miskicks and skied shots were all they had to show as half-time neared.
But just as it looked like the Phoenix would take a 1-0 lead into the break, Kenny Cunningham took one touch 20 metres out and unleashed a perfectly placed dipping strike to double the lead. And barely a minute later, Rashid Mahazi's challenge on Hernandez in the box had referee Adam Kersey pointing to the spot for the Costa Rican to calmly convert into a 3-0 half-time lead.
Melbourne showed more intent in the second half but, urged on by a vocal 6813-strong crowd, the Phoenix continued to press hard as they restricted the Victory to only the rare foray on goal.
The icing on the cake came in the 86th minute when Brockie, goalless since scoring in round four against the Victory, came on and slammed home a class Albert Reira through-ball for the Phoenix's fourth.
Barely two minutes later, Stein Huysegems rounded off an outstanding night with his seventh goal of the season.
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