Melbourne City climbed inside the top six of the Hyundai A-League table after comprehensively defeating Newcastle Jets 4-0 at AAMI Park on Saturday.
City, who have played three more games than the seventh-placed Brisbane Roar, lead them by two points after Kew Jaliens, Harry Novillo, David Williams and Iain Ramsay netted in Melbourne.
It seemed fitting that Jaliens - the ex-Newcastle captain who was one of five players sacked by the Jets in January - would score, and his 18th-minute opener paved the way for City's big win.
Novillo capped a fine home debut with City's second in the 47th minute, before substitutes Williams and Ramsay got in on the act as John van 't Schip's side won well.
WHAT THEY SAID
"It was a very important win for us tonight. Numerically it's still a chance for the finals but we've got to keep going hard. It's always cliche where we are at the moment but we've got to win the next game and take it day by day." - Melbourne City striker David Williams
1-0 (Kew Jaliens, 18')
Aaron Mooy's corner from the right exposed Newcastle's defence, who could only watch on as Jaliens volleyed in from seven yards with an effort that was too hot to handle for Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy.
2-0 (Harry Novillo, 47')
City looked to have squandered a good chance, when Robert Koren did not get a clear shot off in the penalty area, but Novillo gathered the loose ball and expertly fired into the left corner to double City's advantage.
3-0 (David Williams, 63')
Koren split Newcastle's hapless defence with a sublime through-ball, and Williams did the rest, slotting past Kennedy with ease for his first goal since November.
4-0 (Iain Ramsay, 87')
Ramsay capped off City's big win when, after Mooy surged forward and fed him down the left, he produced a first-time shot that hit the base of the right post and went in.
While City were comfortable during the first half, a one-goal lead can often be cause for panic. The hosts put their fans at ease just two minutes after the resumption, though, as Novillo - impressive down the left throughout - produced a smart finish.
Newcastle needlessly conceded possession at the back after Novillo applied good pressure, but when Koren's effort was blocked, the chance seemed lost. Novillo pounced, however, and killed the game off with his first A-League goal before celebrating with the home fans.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Newcastle have not won on the road in their last 13 A-League matches. Of those 13, nine have been defeats, with the Jets' last away win coming at Western Sydney in March last year. They have not scored in five of their last six away matches, either.
For City, the result extended their unbeaten streak at AAMI Park to seven matches.
Without a win since December, Newcastle needed everything to go right if they were to get a result.
And coach Phil Stubbins must have been scratching his head at their poor marking from the 18th-minute corner that saw Jaliens score the opener. The defender somehow found the space to volley in from seven yards, straight in front of goal, setting up his side's victory.
THE FINAL WORD
Back in the top six, for now at least, City's credentials will be tested at the in-form Sydney FC on Friday. Newcastle are in action one night later, and could move from the foot of the table with victory against fellow strugglers Western Sydney, who will face a short turnaround from another mid-week AFC Champions League match.
Melbourne City: Velaphi, Retre, Kisnorbo, Jaliens, Clisby, Germano (Murdocca 73'), Mooy, Koren, Dugandzic (Ramsay 82'), Kennedy (Williams 54'), Novillo
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Neville, Kantarovski, Mullen, Lee, Pavicevic (Montano 64'), Pepper (Lundy 73'), Caravella, Alivodic, Cooper (Gallagher 45'), Hoole
Scorers: Jaliens 18', Novillo 47', Williams 63', Ramsay 87'
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Nil
Conditions: 19C, Wet
Attendance: 5,867 @ AAMI Park