It was the lanky attacker's second goal in four days after scoring in Victory's horror 6-2 loss to Ulsan midweek in the ACL.

Victory were trailing to a 23rd minute Leigh Broxham own goal and had to wait another hour to rein in the visitors.

Substiute Leroy George dispatched a penalty earned by Athiu in the 83rd minute, before the Sudanese-born striker sealed the win with a spectacular horizontal header four minutes later.

For Athiu making just his fourth appearance in the A-League the match-winning performance was a long-time in the making.

"It’s a great feeling,"  the former Heidelberg United hero told Fox Sports post-match. "I’ve waited a long time to start getting some game time.

"The patience obviously the coach has shown in me and also my teammates in helping me to develop – I’m really grateful tonight. I feel that should be the standard for me to go on from here."

After a cracking first half it all went pear-shaped for the Nix culminating with a 93 minute send-off for substitute Alex Rufer for kicking out at Terry Antonis. Wellington fans will feel aggrieved after a foul in the build up to the Athiu goal was ignored.



Phoenix had the better of the football in the first half .

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas pulled off some crucial saves to deny the visitors and Fijian flyer Roy Krishna fluffed several gilt-edged chances.

In contrast to the sluggish Victory, the visitors played with swagger as young guns Matthew Ridenton and Sarpreet Singh fed the attack.

Coach Kevin Muscat went to the bench early bringing on big guns Leroy George and Carl Valeri before turning to Athiu in the 72nd minute - the striker making an almost immediate impact.

The result keeps Victory in 4th place and assured of a home final while Phoenix remain rooted to the bottom of the table, two points adrift of Central Coast Mariners.