You couldn't have hoped for a more mismatched elimination final if 2017/18 season standings were anything to go by.

At the beginning of this campaign, Wellington and Melbourne were epochs apart. Ultimately, all that could separate them was a 190 centimetre German and a 191-centimetre Swede.

While the Nix started brightly under Rudan, coming close in the opening minute after a surging start from Roy Krishna, Wellington's set-piece frailty - no side have conceded more from dead balls this season - came back to bite them.

After hanging on for periods, a tactical masterclass in the form of a late, unseen run from the gigantic German allowed Victory to steal a lopping-headered lead heading into half-time, which they never relinquished.

As Phoenix continued to dominate possession in the second, Kevin Muscat again aptly-used the weapons at his disposal, leveraging Kosta Barbarouses's pace off a fast-break to double the advantage.

Rudan withdrew experienced Spaniard Mandi for the youthful exuberance of Sarpreet Singh and Max Burgess began to up the tempo as Phoenix's youngsters got going, eventually resulting in Singh's curling ball for Krishna to knick one back - his 19th of the season.

But the golden boot winner cut a frustrated figure when the Big V struck back quick-smart through Toivonen, who stands tall among the competition's deadliest strikers heading into the semi-finals. 

"It felt good, an important game and that's what it's all about," Toivonen said. "The gaffer put in a good tactic.

"The goalkeeper was sliding in front of me so the chip was always on, it was the only choice I had," the striker noted.

Fellow goalscorer Barbarouses has admitted an overseas transfer is "enticing" but affirmed praise for Muscat's approach, which saw Victory command just 37% possession at home. 


Barbarouses eyes Victory exit

Melbourne Victory's current leading goalscorer Kosta Barbarouses looks set to leave the club and head overseas next season unless the club digs deep to keep him, he's admitted.

"Be patient - we set up to play to our strengths and find errors to expose them," Barbarouses said. "Credit to everyone, the coaching staff set us up pretty well.

"We gave up possession to allow us to do that. He takes the attention away from me, at times I was getting marked out of games, playing up top with him, his unselfish runs, he runs into space knowing he's not going to get the ball. 

"He doesn't get many assists from me, he should, but we work well together. We can be proud of ourselves, hopefully two big games in front of us."

Michal Kopczynski's late red card ended a mere pockmark on a still impressive Wellington season.

Despite missing his chance to lead Wellington further in only their second finals appearance, Burgess was proud of a formidable season, both for the Nix and for himself, personally.

"They're a formidable team at home but we really believed we could get a result and we left it all out there," Burgess said.

"We were playing in their half, but they're dangerous in the counter. (Rudan's advice) was motivational - he's got a winning mentality and he's driven that into us, so that's what he said at half time. 

"We've had a really tight-knit group and it's been a rewarding season."