Adelaide United snapped a run of consecutive losses and cruised past Melbourne City 4-1 in their A-League football clash at Hindmarsh Stadium last night.
The dominant Reds found some much-needed form heading into the finals, the win allowing United to jump temporarily into fourth spot, level on 46 points with Wellington, but ahead on goal difference.
The Phoenix host Sydney FC this evening and a win or draw for Wellington would elevate them back above Adelaide into second place (Perth are currently second and out of reach of the chasing pack though they've been excluded from the finals after breaching the salary cap) and a grant them the first week of the finals off.
United entered the clash with five starters missing - Marcelo Carrusca and Awer Mabil were rested despite being fit while Nigel Boogaard was suspended.
Midfielders Isaias and Jimmy Jeggo were also not selected with the pair one yellow card away from incurring an automatic ban, but it mattered little as the Reds took City apart from the first whistle.
Craig Goodwin tested City early, forcing goalline saves after whipping in two corners at pace, before Miguel Palanca eventually broke the deadlock on 19 minutes.
Pablo Sanchez danced his way through City's defence before teeing up Palanca who slotted past Tando Velaphi with a low, left-footed drive.
Sanchez doubled United's lead just four minutes later, smashing home from 12 metres after Velaphi could only parry Sergio Cirio's shot.
Jonatan Germano could have pulled one back for the visitors but he blasted over the bar from six metres after Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic spilled Harry Novillo's strike from distance.
In the 33rd minute, Tarek Elrich made it 3-0 with a brilliant individual effort and a contender for goal of the season.
The United fullback picked the ball up inside his own half and slalomed his way down the left flank past four City opponents before coolly finishing past Velaphi.
City started the second half strongly but failed to find a breakthrough while the Reds added a fourth just before the hour.
Goodwin was brought down by Germano inside the area and substitute Cameron Watson stepped up and converted the penalty for his first goal after 105 A-League matches.
The midfielder was forced to re-take his initial successful spot kick after the Reds had encroached inside the area, and he made no mistake at the second attempt.
The visitors did pull one back five minutes later when Aaron Mooy blasted his penalty past Galekovic after he too was brought down inside the area.
City were then reduced to 10 men on 67 minutes when Kew Jaliens was judged to have been the last defender when he fouled Goodwin and Sanchez hit the bar from the resulting free-kick.
United's numerical advantage lasted just three minutes with Michael Marrone dismissed for a tackle on Erik Paartalu.