Victory in fine form

Melbourne Victory took full advantage of its game in hand to celebrate Australia Day with a thumping 4-0 win over Wellington Phoenix and surge back to the top of the A-League ladder.

Melbourne Victory took full advantage of its game in hand to celebrate Australia Day with a thumping 4-0 win over Wellington Phoenix and surge back to the top of the A-League ladder.

In a slick performance that will surely send a warning to close rivals Sydney FC and the Gold Coast, Melbourne took the lead through a Tim Brown own goal after just 16 minutes.

And in the second half Melbourne really found its flow. Thompson celebrated his 100th A-League appearance with a fine finish in the 50th minute before an unmarked Hernandez made sure of the three points in the 66th.

Matthew Kemp returned to the side as a substitute to add insult to injury, tucking home Victory-s fourth in the 87th minute after substitute Nicky Ward-s audacious back heel fell into his path.

The Victory-s forward quartet of Hernandez, Thompson, Marvin Angulo and Robbie Kruse proved a constant thorn in Wellington-s side, particularly as the game wore on.

Angulo - who-s proving to be another excellent acquisition by coach Ernie Merrick - was given a first start after two sparkling substitute appearances, and didn-t fail to impress.

His range of passing constantly exposed Wellington-s high defensive line in his first full game for the club while Leigh Broxman once again deputised for Evan Berger at left back.

Play was relatively even in the first half but it was the Victory-s potency from set pieces that undid the Phoenix defence.

The first example of that came in the 11th minute when Roddy Vargas met Leigh Broxam-s free kick from the left with a header that clattered into Liam Reddy off the cross bar.

Archie Thompson pounced on the follow up but had his close range effort saved.

Moments later Tim Brown had Wellington-s first real chance as he picked up the ball on the halfway line.

The Victory defence backed away, allowing Brown to shoot but he dragged his effort just wide.

It wasn-t long though before the home side struck. Some trickery from Thompson tempted Ben Sigmund who conceded a free kick on the left.

That proved costly as Hernandez-s whipped ball went goal bound before it was helped in by Brown-s glancing touch.

The Phoenix were on the back foot but their interplay up forward was lively and posed a constant reminder to the home side.

Eugene Dadi turned Roddy Vargas like he wasn-t there to drill a pass into Chris Greenacre, the big man quickly turned and shot from 12 yards only for Mitch Langerak to make a regulation save.

After the break Melbourne found the rhythm it had threatened to break into.

On 50 minutes Angulo dispossessed Ifill and slid another perfectly executed pass to set Archie Thompson free, Victory-s leading goalscorer took his time to cut inside and tuck the ball past Reddy to make it 2-0.

After the second goal, Wellington looked to have lost hope as Hernandez, Thompson, Angulo and Kruse ran riot to put the Phoenix defence at sixes and sevens.

Kruse then beat the offside trap on the right to deliver the ball to an unmarked Hernandez who had time to set and drive the ball into the bottom right corner for Victory-s third.

Kemp then added some gloss to a fine Melbourne performance, latching onto Ward-s neatly timed back heel to score the fourth and put an end to a horror day for the Phoenix.

Angulo had another three chances to cap off his fine game with a goal but couldn-t do so, the Victory now move two points clear at the top after leapfrogging Sydney.

Melbourne Victory 4 (Brown 16og, Thompson 50, Hernandez 66, Kemp 87) Wellington Phoenix 0 Crowd: 18,819 at Etihad Stadium