Phoenix still in the hunt after stunning Victory
FOOTBALL: Wellington Phoenix's finals flame is still flickering, after handing Melbourne Victory a 3-0 home humbling.
Two venomous long-range first half strikes from Roly Bonevacia set the tone for an underwhelming and concerning Victory performance just a fortnight out from finals.
While Victory can't be dislodged from second, Kevin Muscat will be scratching his head in the wake of a timid, disjointed display with a full-strength team featuring at AAMI Park.
A crisis in confidence swept through the team like a plague, with Jason Geria most affected, later receiving a booking which will see him suspended next week.
Muscat hinted that the Victory attack would have more bite about them but service was lacking, with slow ball movement and a lack of runs from deep playing a part.
Victory rarely threatened in the first half, when it was all Phoenix and specifically all Bonevacia.
Fox Sports announced just before kick-off that Bonevacia had agreed to join Western Sydney next season, but if word filtered through it did anything but faze him.
He opened the scoring on nine minutes when he got the ball from Gui Finkler well outside the box, had time to size up the goals before firing a rocket past Lawrence Thomas.
The Dutchman netted his second 17 minutes later, with Victory turning the ball over too easily.
Bonevacia was given too much space, allowed to turn and unleash a strike from even further out than the first, that thundered against both uprights before crossing the line.
Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha had chances before the break, but failed to test young Phoneix keeper Lewis Italiano who kept his spot despite the return of Glen Moss from New Zealand duty.
Victory slowly worked its way into the contest in the second stanza without creating gilt-edged chances.
Any comeback hopes were dashed on 72 minutes when Alan Baro was sent off as he cynically brought down Kosta Barbarouses as he was through on goal.
Victory threw caution to the wind, led by James Troisi, but were left exposed at the back and super sub Shane Smeltz made them pay, tapping in a cross from Tom Doyle in the dying minutes.