Wellington Phoenix's hopes of a first top-two A-League finish have been extinguished as Newcastle Jets recorded a remarkable 3-0 win on Thursday night.
Despite being on the back foot for long periods of an action-packed contest, the Jets prevailed comfortably at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Newcastle scored against the run of play through Nick Fitzgerald moments before half time while Bernie Ibini and Jason Hoffman scored second-half counter-attacking goals as the luckless Phoenix's winless run stretched to four matches.
The Phoenix needed a win to potentially tip Melbourne City from second spot but instead they could slip to fourth should Western United win both of their remaining regular-season matches.
Wellington looked dangerous throughout the match but the Jets goal -- defended admirably by 19-year-old debutant goalkeeper Noah James -- led a charmed life on occasions.
The young custodian had plenty of work almost from the opening whistle, and notably made an inadvertent block on the line with his head from a point-blank Matti Steinmann header.
The Phoenix's dominant opening continued with David Ball having an effort ruled out for offside while there were several half shouts for penalties, a theme that continued throughout the match.
Newcastle's insistence on playing the ball out from the back saw possession turned over in dangerous positions several times and one such occasion required James to deny Ball one-on-one.
Hopes of the Jets stretching their perfect defensive record to three matches for the first time since 2013 seemed remote at best.
Yet they struck in the shadows of halftime with their first shot on target as Fitzgerald completed an impressive passing move with his strike deflecting past goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.
The Wellington No. 1 pulled off one of the saves of the season just after the break, a finger-tip effort to deny Dimi Petratos and keep his side alive in the contest.
At the other end, a busy James made a miraculous save after the Phoenix, somehow, failed to score following a dazzling run from Liberato Cacace.
While it was the Newcastle goal that led a charmed life for much of the second half, Angus Thurgate hit the post for Jets at the end of a near-perfect counter attack.
Substitute Ibini made sure that mattered little with an emphatic finish from outside the penalty area on 76 minutes, for his first goal since returning to the A-League.
Hoffman added further pain for the Phoenix three minutes later by crashing a shot home off the underside of the crossbar.
The Jets, who were unbeaten in their four matches since the restart, finished their campaign ninth in the 11-team competition.