Phoenix equal club winning run by mauling the Victory
Wellington Phoenix have made it a club record equalling four wins on the bounce after running riot over Melbourne Victory in a 3-0 win on Sunday afternoon.
The ‘Nix were relentless at Sky Stadium as the attacking trio of Ulises Davila, Gary Hooper and David Ball all found the back of the net for Ufuk Talay’s side.
Davila’s opener came inside the opening three minutes before delivering the assist for Hooper to double the advantage midway through the first half.
Ball then wrapped it up prior to the hour with a stunning solo effort to deliver the Kiwi club their longest winning run since March 2015 when they also won four on the trot.
The result sees the Phoenix just one point shy of Melbourne City, while still holding a game in hand on Erick Mombaerts team.
For the Victory, their eighth loss in ten games since the start of the calendar year only furthers their woes as they remain seven points outside the top six.
Davila bangs one in early for the 'Nix
It took just three minutes for the Phoenix to assert themselves on the contest and bring the crowd at Sky Stadium to their feet.
Ulises Dávila smashed home a volleyed finish from near-on ten yards with perfect technique but the build-up was just as enticing - Tim Payne floating a cross to the back-post from the byline where Reno Piscopo squared the header for the Mexican attacking midfielder.
The goal ends a recent dry spell for Dávila in front of goal after not netting in his previous four outings.
Hooper heads wide as Welly push for more
It was proving an open, if not always free-flowing contest, with half-chances appearing at both ends following the opening goal - with acrobatic attempts from Davila and Piscopo exciting the local fans.
But it was still the 'Nix that looked most likely to score and they very nearly had their second shortly after the quarter hour when Liberato Cacace picked out Gary Hooper's near-post run but the English striker's flick-on flashed across the face of goal to spare the Victory's blushes.
Hooper will not be denied as Welly strike again
The opportunities kept presenting for the 'Nix and they made it tell in the 21st minute as Hooper was given one chance too many by the Victory backline.
A delightful ball over the Big V's lines from Cacace picked out the Englishman's well-disguised run but despite being unmarked there was still plenty left to do - with his back to goal and Lawrence Thomas still to beat he nodded the ball on with a cunning header for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Marinovic up to task in first test true test
The Victory were being out-played across the park and quickly needed a spark - and who better to deliver it at the 'Cake Tin' than All White Marco Rojas?
The wily midfielder unleashed a fierce hit from the top of the box that seemed certain to tear the back of the net but it wasn't to be as he was foiled by Stefan Marinovic's sensational diving stop.
A follow-up soon presented for Storm Roux but he blasted it high for the Phoenix to survive their first true scare of the contest.
Ball makes it three for the 'Nix
After consolidating their hold on the game prior to the break the hosts came out firing again in the second stanza.
Liberato Cacace drew an early save from Lawrence Thomas but there was nothing the Victory gloveman could do to deny Ball's 55th minute strike.
Running head-on with the ball at his feet after being found by compatriot Hooper with a lobbed pass, the Englishman cuts inside a pair of defenders before tucking away the finish to wrap up the points prior to the hour.
Toivonen adds impetus but frustrations continue for Victory
The Victory brought on Ola Toivonen soon after as they sought to find a focal point to their attack and it slowly offered greater fluency to the visitor's attack.
On the hour he set up Elvis Kamsoba, who saw his strike to deflect wide, and ten minutes later he forced a save from Marinovic with a testing header.
The big Swede almost had his reward minutes later when he stuck out a foot to turn Andrew Nabbout's drive into the back of the net - but it wouldn't stand as he was deemed offside following a review by VAR.
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix
Sunday, 22 March
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 4pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 22 March
Kick-off: 6pm AEDT