Victory in touching distance of premiership

Melbourne Victory has guaranteed itself a top-two spot and has one hand on the premiership after completing its Hyundai A-League home-and-away season with a 2-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory has guaranteed itself a top-two spot and has one hand on the premiership after completing its Hyundai A-League home-and-away season with a 2-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

The Victory moved to the top of the Hyundai A-League standings three points clear of Adelaide United and one-up on goal difference.

To overtake Melbourne to secure the 2008-2009 premiership, Adelaide needs to defeat the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday by two clear goals.

One-up following skipper Kevin Muscat's penalty in the 40th minute, the Victory went hard in search of an all-important second and found it right at the death when Archie Thompson scored in the 90th minute.

The result, Melbourne's sixth home win in a row, dashed fifth-placed Wellington's hopes of taking part in the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time.

Melbourne created the game's first scoring opportunity when Carlos Hernandez slipped a delicate through ball for Billy Celeski whose close-range shot was deflected into the side netting.

The momentum shifted the visitors' way however as the Phoenix forced five corners in the opening 10 minutes, a couple of which caused confusion but no damage.

Unhappy with a heavy tackle from Manny Muscat, Danny Allsopp may have been a touch lucky to escape with a yellow card from referee Strebre Delovski for aiming a kick at Muscat in retaliation just 25 minutes into the contest.

Contact was negligible, but Allsopp's intentions were clear and the episode unfolded right in front of the referee's nose.

Two minutes on, Allsopp was back in the fray when Hernandez wriggled to the by-line and picked him out with a neat cut-back but Allsopp was unable to capitalise.

At the other end, Michael Theoklitos was called on to save long-range shots from Leo Bertos and Shane Smeltz as Wellington's midfield began to reassert itself.

The game was broken open soon after by a mazy run from Matthew Kemp deep into the Wellington box.

The 28-year-old went down after being sandwiched by Manny Muscat and Ben Sigmund, and despite the defensive pair's pleas of innocence the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Skipper Kevin Muscat's drive low and hard to the left gave 'keeper Glen Moss no chance.

Just a minute on, Melbourne came within a whisker of going two-up when some Hernandez trickery set up Nick Ward whose curling drive was bound for the top corner until Moss intervened at full stretch to tip it wide.

It was end-to-end stuff for much of the second half as the Phoenix scrapped hard to turn the match around while the hosts were desperate to build a goal buffer between themselves and Adelaide.

Allsopp came closest in the 56th minute when his shot on the turn from inside the six-yard box was blocked by Moss.

The ball rebounded for Hernandez but the Costa Rican international was unable to get his first-time shot on target.

Less than a minute later Wellington's Daniel Cortes went down in the box only to have his penalty appeal turned down as the visitors rallied.

Thompson came close to scoring when put through by a quick free kick from Kevin Muscat in the 76th minute, but his shot from close on the left skewed high and wide.

Thompson made amends however in the 90th minute when he raced onto a long through ball and was able to slot his shot between Moss and defender Tony Lochhead for the goal that could prove the difference between finishing first and second.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Muscat 40p, Thompson 90) Wellington Phoenix 0 Crowd: 28,905 at Telstra Dome.