Melbourne Victory tuned up for the A-League play-offs in style with a 4-1 pasting of a hapless Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
First-half goals to Archie Thompson, James Troisi and Gui Finkler had the game wrapped up by the break, as the Victory ran riot in the midfield and tormented Wellington’s makeshift back four.
Things improved little in the second spell, with the Phoenix down 4-1 and reduced to 10 men after Shaun Timmins brought down Kosta Barbarouses 10 minutes after the restart.
Victory skipper Mark Milligan converted the penalty, in a match which offered sweet revenge for Wellington’s 5-0 win last time the two teams met, and only Jeremy Brockie’s extra-time goal offered any measure of respectability to the home team.
The win means Victory edge momentarily into second on the ladder, ahead of Western Sydney and Central Coast, who are yet to play their final regular season matches against Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar respectively.
Melbourne were at near full-strength, missing only attacking midfielder Tom Rogic – out with a groin injury – and defender Pablo Contreras.
Coming off two lacklustre draws, they found their rhythm quickly, taking barely 50 seconds to open the scoring.
Wellington’s defence was caught napping as Troisi broke clear into the box, his cut-back finding Thompson, who slotted home the easiest of finishes past stand-in stopper Jacob Spoonley.
Melbourne’s second came as the half-hour mark neared, after good work from Barbarouses down the left was rewarded by Troisi’s sharp finish from an acute angle for his 12th goal of the season.
Finkler made it three right on the shadow of halftime, Barbarouses again featuring in the build-up before slipping a sweet through-ball for Finkler to slam home.
Melbourne’s back four, boosted by the return of central defender Nick Ansell from injury, were composed in the first spell, and rarely threatened in the second until out-of-sorts striker Brockie’s 92nd-minute power volley gave the Phoenix some late consolation.
The result epitomised the Phoenix’s horror end to the season.
Hard hit by injury and suspension, they haven’t had a win since February 21, managing to net just seven goals in seven matches while conceding 22 at the same time.