Victory blitz Phoenix

Melbourne has assumed pole position in the battle for the Hyundai A-League Premiers' Plate with a 4-0 win over Wellington at Etihad Stadium putting the defending champion two points clear on top with just three matches remaining.

Melbourne has assumed pole position in the battle for the Hyundai A-League Premiers' Plate with a 4-0 win over Wellington at Etihad Stadium putting the defending champion two points clear on top with just three matches remaining.

Melbourne made it three home wins in ten days with a comfortable success, which was perhaps flattered by the scoreline. A Tim Brown own goal helped the Victory on their own way before Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez and Matthew Kemp sealed the result with goals in the second half.

The win came on top of home successes over Perth and Adelaide over the past fortnight which have seen Melbourne assume top spot on the table, two points clear of Sydney and three points in front of Gold Coast. With a vasty-superior goal difference than either of those two teams, who Melbourne both also plays in the run home, back-to-back premierships would seem at Melbourne's mercy.

For Wellington, who bossed much of the first half, it was yet another fruitless road trip, coming on top of its defeat in Perth last Friday night. The Phoenix still have a four-point buffer in sixth place and seem destined for the finals unless things seriously unravel on in the next couple of weeks.

Wellington took an attacking approach into the game with Eugene Dadi, Chris Greenacre and Paul Ifill all starting in a statement that the Phoenix weren't in Melbourne to secure only a point. And for much of the first half, they controlled the game but were let down by their final pass.

Melbourne looked to the dead ball to create its best chances of the first half and on 11 minutes, only the bar stopped Rody Vargas from putting the home side ahead. Thompson followed up but his effort was well blocked by Liam Reddy.

However on 16 minutes, Melbourne snatched a fortunate lead when Hernandez put in another low cross from a free kick. Brown rose to head it away but only succeeded in directing it past Reddy and into his own net.

Going a goal down didn-t deter the Phoenix's ambitions to play attacking football and twice ifill could have had them back on level terms. Brown and Jon McKain were booked as Wellington looked to snuff out Melbourne's quick ball movement through the midfield.

Thompson's 32-minute effort went straight at the keeper while Marvin Angulo's free kick deflected to Robbie Kruse, who failed to get a close-range shot on target.

Dadi flitted in and out of the contest, but when he was in it, the game looked better for his presence. Just before half time, he cleverly turned the Melbourne defence before delivering a chance for Brown. However, like Ifill had earlier, the experienced midfielder found Mitch Langerak's reflexes impossible to beat.

Five minutes into the second half some excellent midfield movement signalled the end of Wellington's prospects of getting something out of the game. Angulo won the ball on the half-way line and his inch-perfect pass found Thompson who side-footed his finish past Reddy

Reddy was just about the busiest man on the park over the next 15 minutes, saving from both Angulo and Thompson. Given the momentum Melbourne had built, it wasn't surprising when on 65 minutes it was 3-0 after Kevin Muscat allowed Robbie Kruse to spring the offside trap and then found Hernandez who finished well.

After the third goal, Melbourne took the opportunity to introduce the previously hamstrung pair of Matthew Kemp and Evan Berger, while Nick Ward also came on as the attacking troika of Thompson, Hernandez and Kruse took their mark.

Kemp made his impression in the 88th minute, setting up Ward for a forward run and getting the ball back via an audacious back-heel which he smashed into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.

Melbourne Victory 4 (Brown (og) 15, Thompson 50, Hernandez 65. Kemp 88) Wellington Phoenix 0 Crowd: 18,819 at Etihad Stadium