Melbourne Victory cruised to a 3-0 win over a lacklustre Melbourne City in the A-League on Saturday night, securing local bragging rights and valuable points in the race for the Premier's Plate.
Goals from Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah saw the Big V gain revenge for their 1-0 loss to City in December, as Kevin Muscat's side capitalised on Adelaide United's defeat away to the Central Coast Mariners to move second on the table.
A big crowd at Etihad Stadium offered a heroes' welcome to suspended captain Mark Milligan and former coach Ange Postecoglou, as the Socceroos duo presented the Asian Cup to the Victory faithful.
The match itself appeared to be suffering from a hangover of sorts after that memorable tournament, with the hosts rarely getting out of second gear on their way to a comprehensive win.
1-0 (Berisha, 10')
A loose pass from City centre-back Patrick Kisnorbo gifted Leigh Broxham possession in a dangerous area and Victory pounced. The midfielder fed Barbarouses on the right and the New Zealand international found Berisha at the back post, Victory's marquee international gleefully tucking home the simplest of chances.
2-0 (Barbarouses, 53')
Guilherme Finkler sent a free-kick to the near post and Barbarouses did well to hook his leg around the ball, guiding a finish over the City defence and into the roof of the net with the help of his shin.
3-0 (Ben Khalfallah, 62')
Kisnorbo, Jack Clisby and substitute Josh Kennedy conspired to give the ball away near the halfway line, allowing Barbarouses to play it into the path of Berisha. The Albanian burst clear and squared the ball to Ben Khalfallah, who steered a low finish past City goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne and inside the post.
Victory were denied a penalty in the 14th minute when Clisby's hand got in the way of a fierce Carl Valeri strike. Had referee Peter Green pointed to the spot, City's hopes would surely have been dashed much earlier, although the contentious decision ultimately proved academic.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Three shots on target, three goals. Kevin Muscat's men were clinical in dismantling their cross-city rivals.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
A week after missing two good chances against Western Sydney, one of them an absolute sitter, Van 't Schip's decision to start and then withdraw Iain Ramsay just 30 minutes into the derby appeared perplexing at best, with the wide man's already fragile confidence clearly shattered by the public humiliation of his early withdrawal.
THE FINAL WORD
With Adelaide having lost away to Central Coast earlier in the day, it was a good night at the office for Victory, who climbed to outright second and will relish taking on traditional rivals Sydney FC away from home next Saturday.
City fans meanwhile will wonder what their notoriously inconsistent side will produce when they visit Wellington Phoenix at the Hutt Recreational Ground next weekend. They may be thankful the demands of the Cricket World Cup necessitate a change of venue, having been thumped 5-1 on their last visit to Westpac Stadium.
Melbourne Victory: Coe, Geria (Georgievski 83'), Ansell, Leijer, Galloway, Valeri, Broxham, Finkler, Barbarouses, Ben Khalfallah (Thompson 69'), Berisha (Nabbout 77').
Melbourne City: Redmayne, Hoffman, Chapman, Kisnorbo, Clisby (Murdocca 79'), Safuwan (Kennedy 60'), Mooy, Melling, Duff, Ramsay (Williams 30'), Koren.
Scorers: Berisha (10'), Barbarouses (53'), Ben Khalfallah (62')
Red cards: None
Yellow cards: Chapman (21')
Conditions: 32 degrees, roof closed
Attendance: 40,042 @ Etihad Stadium