Melbourne Victory have kept the heat on National Youth League leaders Central Coast with a comfortable 3-1 win over Sydney FC at a rainswept Cromer Park.
Two first-half goals to Chris Cristaldo and Theo Markelis (pen) and a late strike from Hernan Espindola proved enough to see off the dogged Sky Blues, although poor finishing from the visitors kept things tighter than they should have been.
The Mariners had earlier gone six points ahead of Victory after beating the AIS in Mudgee but this win keeps the Melbourne side in touching distance.
Victory opened the scoring on 15 minutes following some lovely lead-up play from man-of-the match Connor Pain.
In one of many darting runs down the left, the No.10 showed great speed to outpace the defence and roll the ball across goal for Cristaldo to slam home.
Sydney almost responded straight away when Nikola Taneski blasted just over after feeding off the scraps of an uncleared corner on the edge of the box.
The Sky Blues made sure their next chance counted.
Lukas Stergiou fired a pinpoint pass to Tom Slater just inside the box on the left and he slipped the ball under keeper Phil Petrovski to level at 1-1.
The action continued to go end to end with Pain living up to his surname for Sydney's strained defence.
It was another incisive run from the left winger that earned a penalty just after the half hour.
After turning Jared Lum and screaming into the penalty area, Pain was brought down in cynical fashion by Aaron Calver.
It was a clear-cut spot kick and Markelis made no mistake, burying the ball hard, low and to the left.
Markelis should have put the game to bed early in the second half but squandered two gilt-edged chances.
It took until the 82nd minute for Victory to put a final down payment on the three points.
Sydney keeper Anthony Bouzanis could only deflect John Buceto's thunderbolt into the path of Espindola, who tapped in for the match sealer.
Sydney FC 1
Melbourne Victory 3
(Cristaldo 15m, Markelis 33m, Espindola 82m)
Sydney FC: Anthony Bouzanis, Aaron Calver, Keifer Dotti (Kofinas 58), Hagi Gligor, Jared Lum (Clifford 52), Christopher Naumoff, Tom Slater, Lukas Stergiou, Nikola Taneski (Speranza 58), Alec Urosevski, Paul Reid
Res: Marko Bozic, Theo Kofinas, Roberto Speranza, Luke Clifford
Melbourne Victory: Kwabena Boahene, John Buceto, Daniel Chaabani (Symeoy 58), Chris Cristaldo (Espindola 58), Jason Geria, Sam Gallagher, Luc Jeggo, Theo Markelis (Muskulin 58), Dylan Murnane, Connor Pain, Phil Petrovski
Res: Hernan Espindola, Damian Muskulin, Luke Radonich, Nicholas Symeoy