Jets leave Victory hanging

Newcastle Jets have taken a giant step towards booking their spot in the Hyundai A-League finals, with a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, a result which all-but condemns Victory to the status of also-rans for 2011-12.

Newcastle Jets have taken a giant step towards booking their spot in the Hyundai A-League finals, with a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, a result which all-but condemns Victory to the status of also-rans for 2011-12.

It was a clash involving two remarkably different halves as the Jets established a 3-1 half-time lead thanks to two goals from teenager Jacob Pepper and one from Ryan Griffiths, while Harry Kewell scored one penalty and missed another in the first 45.

The Jets then battened down the hatches in the second half to secure their first away win against Victory since 2007. They remain sixth, but have moved level with Melbourne Heart on 34 points.

The Victory's first loss as the home side in 16 matches sees them drop eight points adrift of the top six with three matches remaining and nothing short of a miracle will see them avoid the indignity of missing their first post-season in four years.

The match proved a microcosm of a frustrating season for Melbourne, who had a host of chances in either half to get something out of the game, while they again finished with 10 men after Carlos Hernandez was sent off in the final stages.

Interim coach Jim Magilton has now won one in nine, hardly a resume for an aspiring full-time appointee.

A remarkable opening half started in relatively staid fashion, with Kewell's 11th-minute attempt, which Ben Kennedy almost spilled into his own goal, the first meaningful foray of the match. Marco Rojas should have scored a minute later but shot over.

The Jets' first goal came from their first chance as Ruben Zadkovich put in a cross for Tarek Elrich to cut back and Griffiths to stroll onto it and score his ninth goal of the season.

Two minutes later Victory had a chance to get back on level terms when a long ball to Ubay Luzardo caused Tiago Calvano to panic and drag the defender down. Jarred Gillett pointed to the spot and Kewell converted the equaliser in the 24th minute.

After Zadkovich fired over, Newcastle got their noses back in front on 29 minutes when Jobe Wheelhouse found space down the right and delivered an excellent cross for Pepper to score his first A-League goal.

Seven minutes later, Victory had a likely penalty shout turned down when Ben Kantarovski looked to have handled the ball, and while the home side were complaining, Francis Jeffers almost scored himself.

Then on 39 minutes, Zadkovich beat Matthew Kemp to the ball and Pepper was allowed to get free again and complete his brace in similar circumstances to his first goal.

The action was far from over, with Kemp storming off after being replaced, Archie Thompson smashing the ball into the bar and then Kewell winning a penalty when Zadkovich crashed into him.

But the Qantas Socceroos star missed horribly high and wide, allowing the Jets to retain the 3-1 buffer at the break.

Things slowed down in the second half but just before the hour Hernandez had a great chance to pull one back when through on Kennedy, but he failed to lob the advancing keeper.

The arrival of Jean Carlos Solorzano offered Victory a window back in the game, and he forced an athletic save from Kennedy on 77 minutes before shooting straight at the Jets custodian a minute later.

But when Hernandez received his second yellow card with eight minutes left, the comeback was quashed and the Jets had done what no other team had done all season, knock off Victory as the home side.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Kewell 24p) Newcastle Jets 3 (Griffiths 20, Pepper 29, 39) Crowd: 12,457 at AAMI Park