Gui Finkler scored after just 34 seconds as Melbourne Victory leapt to the top of the A-League table by beating Wellington Phoenix 3-0.
A dominant showing on Sunday offered a real statement of intent from Kevin Muscat’s men, who placed themselves firmly in pole position for the Premiers’ Plate and served notice on one of their closest challengers for the 2014-15 A-League title.
Many of the crowd were still taking their seats at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington when Finkler received a pass from Besart Berisha just inside the penalty area and finished past Glen Moss to open the scoring.
Melbourne dominated the game from that moment and despite not adding to their tally in the first half, they were able to double their lead just before the hour mark when Phoenix midfielder Alex Rodriguez gave up possession cheaply in his own half, allowing Berisha to run deep into Phoenix territory. His square pass was aimed for Finkler, but was instead prodded past his own goalkeeper by Andrew Durante.
The third arrived seven minutes later when a left-wing corner was volleyed towards goal by Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Archie Thompson slotted home on the rebound after his initial effort had been cleared off the line.
That was enough for Victory to inflict a second consecutive home loss on Phoenix, who sit third.
There was further bad news for the hosts when striker Joel Griffiths landed awkwardly in the first half and suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury, which could rule him out for the rest of the season.