Macarthur FC's hopes of earning a home semifinal in their maiden A-League season ended at the final hurdle as the in-form Wellington Phoenix claimed a deserved 3-0 victory at Campbelltown Stadium.
Tomer Hemed starred for the Phoenix, setting up the first goal just before half time and scoring one of his own moments after the interval.
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The win extends the New Zealanders' unbeaten run to 11 matches but the Phoenix will finish the season in seventh, just one point shy of finals' football.
Macarthur, who started the match in fifth, slipped to sixth behind Adelaide United on goal difference and will now face either Brisbane Roar or Central Coast Mariners in their debut semifinal next weekend.
The Bulls' disappointing evening became even worse 13 minutes after the break with midfielder Loic Puyo sent off.
In truth, the Frenchman, who is set to miss at least a week, seemed hugely unlucky to receive a red card on VAR review for a high challenge on the reportedly Macarthur-bound Phoenix midfielder Ulises Davila.
Macarthur could easily have been down to nine players but Moudi Najjar escaped with a yellow card despite a VAR review for his dangerous challenge.
With one eye on the looming finals, Macarthur coach elected to rest star attacker Matt Derbyshire who was one caution away from suspension.
The Phoenix played with confidence and freedom from the outset and they finally claimed overdue reward moments before the break as Hemed's delightful back-heel set up David Ball for the opener.
Hemed got his own deserved reward within a minute of the restart, albeit in fortuitous fashion, as a clearance deflected perfectly into his path for an easy finish past goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Macarthur came close to pulling a much-needed goal back as youngster Michael Ruhs pushed a header onto the post.
At the other end, Hemed fired a dipping shot onto the crossbar and Cameron Devlin saw his effort finger-tipped away by Federici as the Phoenix threatened to embarrass the home side.
Hemed should have made it a double five minutes from the end but his weak spot-kick was easily saved by Federici.
The Phoenix, however, would not be denied a third and substitute Ben Waine fired home from close range in added time.