Harry Novillo brace helps Melbourne City easily account for Wellington Phoenix
The Wellington Phoenix's run of games without a win has reached seven following a 3-1 away loss to Melbourne City on Monday.
Harry Novillo scored a brace for the home team in what was a one-sided affair for three-quarters of the game.
After a 50-minute delay due to the women's W-League semifinal on the same ground going to penalties, both teams made up for lost time in a scintillating opening 20 minutes.
But City, or should that be golden boot leader Bruno Fornaroli, showed their class to grab the lead after 12 minutes.
Manny Muscat had no answers for the Uruguayan as he cut inside him from the left wing and surged into the box before slotting a clinical finish past Glen Moss into the bottom-right corner, although the Phoenix keeper did get his fingertips on it.
In doing so, Fornaroli became the fastest player to score a goal against every opposition A-League club in one season, taking just 16 games.
City continued to send waves of attacks soon after, with Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante picking up his fifth booking of the season and a one-game suspension for what was adjudged by referee Peter Green to be a deliberate hand ball.
At times the City attack was something to behold and few defences, let alone the Phoenix, would have had answers for them.
But City had only kept one clean sheet in 15 games before this one, which suggested there would be gaps at the other end - not that the Phoenix could exploit them.
They regrouped and managed a decent spell of possession in the front third through the middle stages of the first half without really threatening Melbourne's goal.
Roly Bonevacia took his usual serving of opposition studs in his ankles, but alongside Michael McGlinchey and Alex Rodriguez offered Blake Powell some support in attack - they just couldn't create clear-cut chances.
The second City goal came in the 30th minute from a superb whipped cross from left-back Michael Zullo, with Novillo getting in between Durante and Muscat to side-foot it home.
The ease at which it was scored illustrated the gulf in strikepower between the best attacking side in the league and the second-worst.
It only got worse after halftime as Novillo grabbed his second within four minutes of the restart.
Vince Lia was unable to clear his lines properly and the ball made its way to Aaron Mooy on the edge of the box. Phoenix left-back Tom Doyle came off his flank to close him down, leaving Novillo unmarked and the striker slammed home a finish to the top-right corner.
Lia needlessly picked up his fifth yellow of the season shortly after and was given the hook in favour of giving Louis Fenton game time on his return from injury.
Novillo was denied his hat-trick by the crossbar after another sweeping attack in the 55th minute.
For all of City's attacking flair, Bonevacia scored the goal of the night after 66 minutes, launching a thunderbolt from 30 yards which reverse-curled into the top-right corner.
It sparked a late flurry of good attacking play as City eased off the accelerator, but other than that, there wasn't a lot to like about the Phoenix performance. They were well off the pace when it mattered and don't look a side capable of threatening any of the top five sides.
Unfortunately, they still have two more games against City before the season ends, with Melbourne lifting themselves to second on the ladder with the win.
On the bright side, the Phoenix have home matches against Central Coast and Perth ahead, two much more beatable sides than City.