A late double from Trent Buhagiar has given Sydney a 3-1 home win over Wellington to virtually wrap up the A-League Premier's Plate for the Sky Blues.
Substitute Trent Buhagiar has almost certainly guaranteed Sydney FC a record fourth Premier's Plate, with a late double, in a 3-1 win in a lively and controversial return to A-League action.
The win at Netstrata Jubilee Oval on Friday in front of 1796 spectators in the first A-League game for almost four months, lifted Sydney 11 points clear of second-placed Melbourne City, who can't catch them
They are 15 points ahead of third-placed Wellington, who would need to win all of their five remaining games and Sydney to lose all five, with the Sky Blues holding a massive goal difference advantage.
The match produced some controversial moments, with Phoenix having a goal rubbed out for offside and two penalty claims waved away.
The VAR system has been scrapped for the remaining games of the home and away season.
"I believe tonight there was some decisions that influenced the result that didnt favour us,"' said Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay, who felt VAR should have been retained.
It's one game and I'm very happy with the performance."
Pacy Buhagiar broke clear of the Phoenix defence in the 88th and 90th minutes to break the visitors' hearts, after they had taken the lead.
"It was going to open up in the second half, which it did, which freed up a lot of space for transition and we hit them in that transition very well," Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
"Trent was exceptional when he came on. He's got great pace but I thought his two finishes were very good," added Corica who thought referee Chirs Beath had a good game.
The two earlier goals in the second half came from the penalty spot, but Wellington also had a potential go-ahead score rubbed out by a line-ball offside call.
Rene Piscopo scored from a 66th-minute penalty awarded after Ryan McGowan fouled Liberato Cacace.
Adam Le Fondre converted a 76th-minute penalty to equalise after the ball bounced up and hit Phoenix substitute Ulises Davila on the arm.
Mexican Davila thought he'd put Phoenix ahead in the 84th minute, but his shot deflected off Gary Hooper, who was ruled to have been in an offside position.
Englishman Le Fondre's 18th goal of the season put him level with Melbourne City marksman Jamie Maclaren in the race for the Golden Boot.
Both teams played some neat football in difficult conditions on a greasy pitch, with rain falling through the game
Le Fondre went close on a couple of occasions just before Wellington took the lead.
Sydney midfielder Luke Brattan was responsible for most of the shooting action in the first half
He forced two saves out of Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and smashed a long-distance free-kick wide, while Phoenix defender Luke De Vere almost turned a Le Fondre cross into his own goal.
Phoenix produced some good lead-up play in the first half, but created few chances, with Piscopo firing over with one attempt.