City embracing pressure after pummelling Phoenix

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The FFA Cup winners have moved into third in the A-League table and believe they will be a force come finals time

Melbourne City defender Manny Muscat claimed Saturday's dominant 5-1 win over Wellington Phoenix shows his side can deal with end-of-season pressure.

City were without a win in three matches ahead of their trip to New Zealand but produced one of their finest displays of the season in swatting aside the hosts.

Tipped by many as pre-season favourites, City have stuttered since their FFA Cup triumph in November but moved up to third thanks to their win over the Phoenix and Perth Glory's 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar later on Saturday.

With seven rounds remaining, City (30 points) sit above Roar on goal difference, while Glory (28) are fifth in the battle for home advantage in the first week of finals plus the possibility of AFC Champions League qualification.

"Melbourne City is a big club. We strive to the best we can," Muscat told Sky Sport NZ.

"Last week we were 2-0 down [against Roar] and we showed a bit of spirit and got the draw.

"We played some good football today and hopefully we can carry it on into next week and the following weeks coming into finals.

"Pressure-wise, we'll take it when it comes."

Wellington Phoenix 1 Melbourne City 5

Muscat's return to Westpac Stadium might have turned sour had Kosta Barbarouses punished the 32-year-old for giving away an early penalty, but City made the reprieve count.

"It's always hard to come back to your old stomping ground but today was all about Melbourne City," the former Phoenix defender said.

"We came here with a job to do. To get the three points and the way we did it, credit to the boys."

Meanwhile, Wellington defensive midfielder Vince Lia called out his team-mates for not sticking to their tasks in a performance he labelled "extremely disappointing".

"We've got to watch the video. There were five goals there that we didn't defend well at all," Lia told Sky Sport NZ.

"We're going to have to look at them and pick apart the game and figure out why we're not doing our jobs and why things aren't going right."

Lia added: "The second half was poor. We'll lick our wounds and regroup for next week."

The Phoenix, who are five points outside the top six, could drop to ninth by the end of the weekend if Central Coast Mariners get a result against Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

 

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