Sydney FC have snatched a desperate 2-1 victory over Wellington in the dying minutes, with new Serbian recruit Ranko Despotovic netting the winner in his A-League debut.
Richard Garcia opened the scoring in a classic, end-to-end battle at Allianz Stadium.
But with the Sky Blues reduced to 10 men with less than 20 minutes to go after Pedj Bojic was sent off, the Phoenix took advantage with Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham equalising in time added on before Despotovic’s late heroics.
Both sides had perfect opportunities to break the deadlock just moments apart late in the opening half with Jeremy Brockie misfiring in a one-on-one with the ‘keeper and Alessandro Del Piero hitting the post at the other end.
But it was Garcia who finally found the back of the net with a sensational strike from outside the box, working his way into space to put Sydney 1-0 up in the 35th minute.
Sydney continued their assault in the second stanza with gloveman Glen Moss having to make two saves in two minutes early in the half as both Bojic and Nicky Carle threatened to double the Sky Blues’ advantage.
But the complexion of the game changed for the Sky Blues in the 73rd minute when Bojic was sent off after his second yellow card for a foul on Cunningham.
Substitute Paul Ifill and Cunningham both looked like equalising late in the match, with Vince Lia also missing a perfect chance to level.
And it was Cunningham who finally broke through in injury time.
But Sydney struck back moments later through second-half substitute Despotovic to post their third win on the trot.
Melbourne Victory, meanwhile, were even more impressive, overcoming the loss of Adrian Leijer just before the break to go on to thump Adelaide United 3-0.
Kevin Muscat’s men led 1-0 at half-time but faced a tough assignment in the second half following defender Leijer’s sending-off just before the break.
The home side rallied, however, with second-half goals to Archie Thompson and Mitch Nichols to claim their third win of the season in front of a crowd of just over 20,000.
New Zealand international Kosta Barbarouses put the Victory 1-0 up with a tap-in at the 14-minute mark following a strong attacking run and cross from James Troisi.
Trailing by that goal heading into the second half, Adelaide’s big chance came when Victory defender Pablo Contreras was yellow-carded for bringing down Jeronimo Neumann in the box.
Sergio Cirio took the penalty, which was brilliantly saved by Nathan Coe in the 67th minute.
A minute later Thompson made up for his earlier miss with a goal from close range to send the home fans into a frenzy.
Mitch Nichols weaved past Galekovic in the 76th minute to score as Victory went ahead 3-0 to seal the win.
Adelaide remain on five points with just one win for the season while the Victory advance to 11 points, snapping a two-game losing streak.