Newcastle remain in A-League finals contention with an impressive 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory in oppressive heat at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.
Johnny Koutroumbis was the hero in the first half of Saturday night's grand final rematch, his 34th-minute goal putting Victory on the back foot. Dimitri Petratos sealed the deal in stunning fashion in the sixth minute of injury time when he unleashed a superb strike from outside the box into the top left corner. The win extends the Jets' unbeaten run to five matches and moves them to within two points of sixth-placed Wellington.
"We're on a bit of a run at the right time and we've taken a huge step forward to getting into that top six," coach Ernie Merrick said.
"We've had a few things to deal with this year but now we've settled the team down and we're playing some really good football.
"We've come good now, we've come out the other end stronger and I would say that we're going to be a threat to every team we play."
The result continues a lean run for Victory, whose chances of reeling in Perth at the top of the table are all but over, having failed to claim maximum points in their past four games. It was a frustrating night for the Melbourne outfit who had the better of the opening exchanges in an entertaining contest, with Kosta Barbarouses and Keisuke Honda in the thick of the action.
Honda, wearing the captain's armband in place of the hamstrung Carl Valeri, twice forced excellent saves from Jets keeper Glen Moss and Barbarouses rattled the woodwork with his searing shot.
But the Jets worked into the game and Kevin Muscat's men fell behind for the fifth time in five games. After a blazing run down the left by Brazilian midfielder Jair, a fierce shot from Steven Urgarkovic ricocheted off Storm Roux into the path of Koutroumbis, who lashed home the opportunity from close range.
Victory's Kenny Athiu found the net after the restart, combining brilliantly with Corey Brown only for the latter to be ruled offside.
Lawrence Thomas kept his side in it with two superb saves as the Jets pressed, while Moss denied Victory's desperate attempts to find an equaliser, with Honda and substitute Jai Ingham coming close.
To rub salt into the wounds, defender James Donachie was sent off in the 92nd minute when he was given a second yellow card.
"I was pleased with our approach and pleased with our urgency and intent," Victory coach Muscat said. "With the ascendancy we had, with the territory we had, the opportunities that we were creating we needed to take the lead but the first goal really gives them something to hold on to and defend and drop even deeper."