Victory clinch late win over Phoenix
Melbourne Victory clinched third place in the A-League and a home elimination final against Perth with a scrambling 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
Ahead 2-0 after 56 minutes thanks to clinical finishes from Marco Rojas and Marcos Flores, the Victory let Wellington back into the game through strikes from Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie barely 10 minutes later.
But seasoned campaigner Archie Thompson provided the winner from a Billy Celeski free kick with seven minutes remaining.
Third on the table going into the last match of the regular season, Melbourne were looking to rediscover form after last week's upset 3-2 loss to the Glory.
They were lifted by the return of Socceroos Thompson and Mark Milligan, with Rojas also back from the All Whites' World Cup qualifiers to boost their firepower up front.
The Victory's influential internationals proved their worth almost immediately, Thompson's long ball down the left finding youngster Connor Pain, who crossed for former Phoenix favourite Rojas to slot home.
The Phoenix regrouped quickly. Huysegems and Brockie both tested Victory keeper Nathan Coe, while Paul Ifill also proved a handful for Melbourne defender Scott Galloway.
But, as has been the case all season, the Phoenix's finishing was lacking and they went into the break trailing 0-1.
Flores doubled the lead 10 minutes after the restart, popping up unmarked in the box to tap home a tidy right-foot finish from a Rojas corner.
But two goals inside two minutes put the Phoenix back on level terms. Huysegems provided the first on 65 minutes, chesting down a Leo Bertos cross to volley home past Coe on the turn.
Brockie equalised barely a minute later, Ifill the provider this time in slipping through a sweet ball for Brockie's 16th goal of the season.
A draw would have been enough to lift the Phoenix into ninth above Melbourne Heart, but Thompson wriggled clear of Manny Muscat in the box and slotted home past retiring Phoenix keeper Mark Paston with consummate ease.