Western Sydney Wanderers surged into third on Friday with their third straight win, overcoming Melbourne City 3-0 at AAMI Park.
Mitch Nichols opened the scoring just after the break with his third strike in six games, while in the 61st minute marquee man Federico Piovaccari ended his drought since joining the Wanderers with a goal shrouded in controversy.
Mark Bridge added a third late on with a tap-in.
The Wanderers sit third as one of three clubs on 10 points - one adrift of Hyundai A-League leaders Sydney FC.
0-1 Nichols (47') - City made two changes at the break and still seemed half-asleep as Dario Vidosic found space on the right and rolled the ball across goal to an unmarked Nichols for an easy tap-in.
0-2 Piovaccari (61') - Scott Neville played the ball in the direction of Dario Vidosic - who was flagged offside - but the pass was deflected, allowing the full-back to regain possession and cross for the Italian striker to volley into the net. After referee Peter Green consulted with his assistant, he awarded the goal.
0-3 Bridge (84') - Jaushua Sotirio's cross-cum-shot found Bridge at the back post for a simple finish. It was the 30-year-old's 50th A-League goal.
Referee Green's decision to allow Piovaccari's goal took the wind out of the home side's sails. John van 't Schip and Co. will be particularly irked with the call, as replays seemed to suggest the assistant referee made the right decision to raise his flag. Plenty of City players appeared more focused on Green than playing for the rest of the game, with Bruno Fornaroli going into the book for letting rip at the linesman.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Wanderers snapped a 20-game drought (including finals) without a clean sheet away from home in the A-League.
Western Sydney have won four of their five games at AAMI Park against City.
City have conceded eight goals in their past three games.
With 12 minutes remaining, Fornaroli had a chance to drag the hosts back into the contest via a direct free-kick.
The Uruguayan striker - the A-League's leading scorer - struck his shot firmly towards the far top corner of the net but Wanderers goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne flew through the air to palm the ball around the post.
Against his former club, Redmayne looked nervous at times but this save indicated a growing sense of confidence and saw the 26-year-old claim just his second clean sheet of the season.
City defender Aaron Hughes made his first start but only lasted 45 minutes before being replaced at half-time by Jack Clisby.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
City coach Van 't Schip had called for a better defensive mentality from his entire team in the lead-up to Friday's game.
With full-backs Ben Garuccio and Paulo Retre caught out for all three of Western Sydney's goals, the Dutch manager clearly has a lot of work to do down back.
THE FINAL WORD
With five of Western Sydney's next seven games at home, Tony Popovic's men look likely to keep their run going after winning their past three.
Suddenly the Wanderers look like A-League contenders.
Van 't Schip must improve his team's defence but he will be also concerned the lack of creativity in the absence of marquee midfielder Aaron Mooy.
Mooy's form for the Socceroos indicates he will probably miss more games throughout the season but at least he could be back for next week's trip to Brisbane.
Melbourne City: Sorensen, Garuccio, Hughes (Clisby 46'), Chapman, Retre, Paartalu, Melling, Mauk, Novillo (Espindola 65'), Kuzmanovski (Gameiro 46'), Fornaroli
Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne, Jamieson, Topor-Stanley (c), Aspropotamitis, Neville, Andreu (Pepper 76'), Delgado, Nichols, Bridge, Vidosic (Sotirio 82'), Piovaccari (Castelen 66')
Scorers: Nichols 47', Piovaccari 61', Bridge 84'
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Garuccio 22', Andreu 31', Fornaroli 63', Pepper 82'
Conditions: 15C, Fine
Attendance: 7910 @ AAMI Parkcomments