Sydney FC returned to its winning ways with a commanding 4-1 win over A-League rivals Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium.
Victory’s Marco Rojas opened the scoring with a sublime individual effort in the fifth minute before Milos Ninkovic responded in the 43rd.
Second-half goals to Anthony Caceres, Adam Le Fondre and Kosta Barbarouses rounded out the win, while Victory defender Tim Hoogland received a late red card.
In restoring its 13-point lead at the top of the table, Sydney struck a hammer blow to their opponent’s slim finals chances, with Victory now seven points off the pace.
Victory started the game in scintillating fashion when Storm Roux dispossessed Ninkovic, with the ball falling to Rojas, who proceeded to take on all comers.
The winger danced away from Luke Brattan and Paulo Retre, then skipped around Alex Wilkinson and powered a shot into the roof of the net.
Ola Toivonen, Rojas and Elvis Kamsoba all had chances go begging – though none were as costly as the latter’s 42nd-minute miss.
Kamsoba intercepted a loose defensive pass but put his effort wide and the Sky Blues would make him rue his inefficiency just a minute later.
Rhyan Grant found Barbarouses, with the forward slipping a pass through to Ninkovic. The Sydney playmaker left Roux stranded with a clever feint, then slid the ball home.
Three minutes later, Roux headed the ball into the path of Le Fondre, who put a shot over the bar.
Sydney could easily have taken the lead in the 55th minute.
Ninkovic burst forward to latch onto Grant’s cross, forcing a superb right-footed save from Lawrence Thomas.
It was Sydney’s third game in eight days, but the Sky Blues finished the stronger of the two sides and in the 64th minute, snatched the lead.
Caceres – off the back of a short-corner routine – danced along the edge of the area and unleashed a long-range strike into the opposite top corner.
Sydney doubled their advantage two minutes later. The Sky Blues caught Victory in transition, with Grant slipping a deft ball through to Le Fondre.
The golden boot leader chipped Thomas, with a desperate Giancarlo Gallifuoco only able to further bury the ball in his own net.
In the 85th minute, Hoogland was given his marching orders for bringing down Trent Buhagiar inside the penalty box.
A VAR review upheld the call, with Barbarouses slotting home the penalty to rub salt into his former club’s wounds.