Melbourne Victory has strengthened its position in the top two of the Hyundai A-League with a 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
A brace from Besart Berisha and goal from James Troisi saw Victory claim its second win in three games.
Berisha struck twice in his 150th Hyundai A-League game, while Troisi netted his fifth for the campaign.
The win extended Victory’s advantage over City and Brisbane Roar to nine points, while climbing to within eight points of Sydney FC with seven rounds remaining.
Victory head coach Kevin Muscat made just one change to last week’s team, with Mitch Austin dropping to the bench and Jai Ingham earning his second start of the season.
Ingham started on the right wing, with Marco Rojas switching to the left, as defensive pairing Alan Baro and Nick Ansell started their third straight game together.
Victory was looking for a response to its scoreless draw against Newcastle Jets a week earlier, and it was positive and in control from the outset.
In the first few minutes, James Troisi hit the target with a long-range strike and Berisha had his dribbling run smothered by the Mariners defence.
Central Coast hit back and started to ask questions of the Victory defence, but a brilliant attacking move by the visitors broke the deadlock after 25 minutes.
Troisi and Rojas exchanged passes around the edge of the 18-yard box, before Rojas played in Daniel Georgievski, who provided the cross for Berisha to convert.
Victory continued to create chances, with Troisi hitting the bar with a curling right-footed shot and Rojas firing centimetres wide approaching half-time.
It was more of the same to start the second period, with Victory squandering several chances before a moment of individual brilliance by Troisi doubled the advantage.
Troisi stole the ball from Jake McGing in midfield, ran into the box and blasted a shot past Paul Izzo to make it 2-0.
Berisha put the icing on the cake, taking advantage of a defensive error before rounding Izzo and finishing smartly with his left foot.
After back-to-back away trips, Victory returns home this weekend to play Adelaide United on Saturday, February 25 at AAMI Park. Tickets are available here.
Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 20
Central Coast Mariners 0
Melbourne Victory 3 (Berisha 25’/90+1′, Troisi 58′)
Central Coast: Izzo (gk), Galloway, Rose, Poscoliero, Roux (c) (Neill 90′), McGing, Ferreira, Berry, Pain (Appiah 73′), O’Donovan, Buhagiar (Bingham 79′)
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Georgievski, Baro, Ansell (Donachie 56′), Geria, Valeri (c), Bozanic (Broxham 70′), Troisi, Rojas, Berisha, Ingham (Austin 78′)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford