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Sydney FC too strong for Phoenix

Sydney FC extended their season-long streak without a loss away from home in an emphatic 3-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Former Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz celebrated his return to Wellington with a goal and an assist as Sydney fired home three first-half goals to all but wrap up the win before the break

Both teams finished the match with 10 men, Phoenix midfielder Albert Reira sent off after receiving a second yellow fouling Milos Dimitrijevic in the 67th minute, and Smeltz two minutes later with a straight red after kicking out at Ben Sigmund.

With only four matches left in the regular season, Sydney have yet to lose away from home, although their nine-game unbeaten run was ended by last week’s 1-0 loss to Melbourne City.

Wellington still sit atop the league ladder, but now only have a one-point margin over Melbourne Victory, Sydney and Perth Glory.

The Phoenix, returning to their home stadium for the first time since early January, only managed a few early chances.

The best came after barely a minute, when striker Joel Griffiths pounced on a loose ball in the box and forced a solid save from Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

But Sydney’s pace down the flanks continued to create opportunities, as the home team struggled to control the midfield and lacked cohesion at the back in the absence of six front-line players away on international duty.

Sydney had no such trouble, despite missing the league’s top scorer in Austrian striker Marc Janko.

They hit the front after seven minutes, Smeltz nodding down the corner for Jacques Faty to slam home past Glen Moss.

Smeltz doubled the lead 20 minutes later, timing his run perfectly to latch onto Chris Naumoff’s through ball and then leaving Moss no chance of save.

Five minutes before the break, Moss was left flat-footed after a close-range scramble, the ball trickling over the line from a Phoenix touch for an own goal.

The second spell offered few chances for either team, the frustrated Phoenix starved of space and ball as Sydney closed out the match.

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