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Muscat confident of Victory finals form

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/04/2017 Emma Kemp

Second place is finally locked up and Melbourne Victory can simply watch on as A-League rivals Melbourne City, Brisbane and Perth jostle below for third and fourth.

And coach Kevin Muscat is confident his side's improved mentality will stop them slipping into a complacent holding pattern as the focus shifts to a home semi-final in three weeks' time.

The top six is fixed with one round remaining, with both Western Sydney and Perth now guaranteed of finals football.

The Wanderers can no longer climb higher than fifth; question now is which of City (39 points), Roar (39 points) and outsiders Glory (36 points) will land an advantageous home elimination final.

While it's been unofficially true for some weeks, second-placed Victory (46 points) are now mathematically out of reach, an unassailable seven points ahead of the pack and 17 points adrift of premiers Sydney FC (63 points).

A point was enough to get it done as Muscat's men rebounded from their woeful 3-0 loss to Wellington in determined fashion, comfortably holding Western Sydney to a goalless draw on Saturday night despite being down to 10 men for nearly 40 minutes.

The obvious risk now is another lapse, given Friday night's final-round marking-time exercise against Central Coast is followed by a week off.

But Muscat emphasised his squad was better off for the harsh lessons learnt in the Phoenix abomination.

And he stressed form against the Mariners at AAMI Park will be a vital precursor to their finals fortunes.

"You've got to get to that point of competing and playing to the best of your abilities because anything short, you won't have any success," Muscat said.

"Knowledge tells me you can't just turn up in a semi-final or a final and play 30 or 40 per cent better.

"You've got to go in playing some decent stuff, and I thought we were decent tonight."

Sydney aren't lacking in motivation, after Saturday's 1-1 draw in Wellington ensured they'll need a home win against Newcastle to break Brisbane's all-time points record of 65.

It came as the Sky Blues became the world's first domestic beneficiary of the video replay system when they were awarded a 72nd-minute penalty.

Video assistant referee Jarred Gillet retrospectively judged that Phoenix centre-back Marco Rossi had handballed as he rose to defend a corner, and referee Shaun Evans pointed to the spot for Bobo to convert.

Unfortunately for the Phoenix, Michael McGlinchey's equalising injury-time header wasn't enough to stay in the finals hunt, their fate sealed after Perth saw off Brisbane 3-1.

That confirmed the Glory's playoffs berth, though they'll need to beat third-placed City at home and close a six-goal difference with the Roar to move into the top four.

The fourth-placed Roar are far more likely to retain one of those slots when they back up from Wednesday's home ACL clash against the Phoenix on Sunday.

The sixth-placed Wanderers are out of the top-four race but can still leapfrog Perth into fifth when they play Adelaide days after their own ACL match.

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