Roy Krishna fired a hat-trick as Wellington Phoenix kept their chase for fourth place alive in a thrilling 3-2 win against Melbourne City.
Twice Phoenix held the lead, and twice they were pegged back by Riley McGree strikes, but Krishna pounced on a 93rd-minute goal-mouth scramble in a chaotic finish at Westpac Stadium.
The Fijian flyer broke the Phoenix record for goals in a Hyundai A-League season, took an outright lead in the Hyundai A-League golden boot standings and scored his 50th Hyundai A-League goal in a memorable night.
City dominated possession throughout but the Nix punished their visitors in stoppage time, as Mark Rudan’s men closed the gap to one point in the battle for a home match in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
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Phoenix put the Hyundai A-League’s second best defence to the test early on, with David Williams and Max Burgess taking aim but seeing their goal-bound shots blocked by the imperious Ritchie de Laet.
Krishna sent another warning sign when he bent a curling shot over the City crossbar on 21 minutes before Filip Kurto had to stay alert to make a double save from Maclaren and McGree’s fizzing drives.
City seem to be in full control but, in what is becoming a trademark of the Nix’s season, a fast-paced counter attack did the damage on 27 minutes. Burgess timed his pass to perfection and Krishna delicately lifted the ball over the prone Eugene Galekovic.
The lead lasted only 15 minutes when Kurto was called into action again, making another double save to deny Maclaren’s efforts, but McGree showed the Caltex Socceroo how it is done when he picked out the bottom corner to level the scores.
City’s equaliser certainly never had an adverse effect on Phoenix, who burst into action in the second half, regaining the advantage on 52 minutes when Krishna engineered space and rifled a low shot past Galekovic.
Kurto again was on hand to deny Shayon Harrison at a close range as chances fell to both sides, but McGree made his opportunity count on 66 minutes when he guided an arrowed strike into the bottom corner.
The visitors were dominating as the match ticked towards the closing stages and Phoenix hearts were in their mouths when Harrison’s 25-yard free-kick crashed back off the crossbar.
City substitute Ramy Najjarine lashed over the bar late on and Galekovic made an outstanding save to stop Burgess’ header in stoppage time. That set the stage for Krishna to net his first Hyundai A-League hat-trick and his 18th goal of the season, leaving Phoenix fans hoping it would not be their last visit to Westpac Stadium in 2018/19.
Relive the action in the live blog