The Wanderers beat Perth Glory 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium to extend their season-best winning run to seven and take over top spot from the Mariners in their amazing debut season in the A-League.
However, perhaps spurred on by that and certainly determined to make up for last week's disappointing loss to then bottom-placed Perth, the Mariners turned on an incredible performance at Bluetongue Stadium to hammer the third-placed Victory 6-2.
The race for top spot continues to be tight, though, with the Mariners now sitting first with 45 points from 22 games and seven remaining, and the Wanderers just behind on 44 with 14 wins for the season already.
The Wanderers took until the 58th minute to score against the Glory, but Aaron Mooy's first A-League goal was enough to secure the 1-0 victory.
The goal did come with a bit of luck after deflecting off Glory defender Michael Thwaite and past goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, but the Wanderers outplayed Perth most of the game and deserved to go ahead and stay there.
It is Western Sydney's seventh straight victory making them the first team to do so since the Victory did in 2006.
The Wanderers now prepare to take on the Mariners next Saturday in a match that could very well end up deciding top spot. Popovic wanted to savour the win over the Glory, though, that ensures his team cannot miss the finals in its rookie season.
"It's pleasing to come away with a win in such tough conditions and against a side that's improved. They came here to try and get a point if they could, but they are the important ones to win when things aren’t quite going your way," Popovic said.
"Of course our goal got a deflection, but it was good lead-up play to get to that point. That was the pleasing part for us. Sometimes you get the luck you deserve after good play."
It was the second game in charge for Glory interim coach Alistair Edwards and he left Parramatta Stadium feeling his team deserved a point.
"I thought the game had draw written all over it to be honest. They got a deflected goal that was probably against the run of play," Edwards said.
"Apart from the first 25 minutes I thought we did really well and there are some good signs moving forward."
It was a rain-lashed Bluetongue Stadium for Saturday night's second A-League encounter, but that didn’t stop the Mariners from putting on a clinic to thrash the Victory 6-2.
Michael McGlinchey scored a hat-trick, Mitchell Duke netted a brace while Nick Fitzgerald added to the hosts' goal haul to inflict a third straight loss on the hapless Victory, who remains in third spot.
Mark Milligan was the sole goal-scorer for the visitors after Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury gifted them a consolation own-goal.
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold insisted his side weren't spurred on by the Wanderers result, saying he was totally unaware they had even won and temporarily snatched top spot.
He said their main motivation was rebounding from a shock 2-1 loss to lowly Perth last week.
"After our performance against Perth we talked about a reaction and we put in a good performance tonight," Arnold said.
"It was tough conditions but I thought we were superb tonight. A performance like this at this stage of the season is very important."
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou cut a dejected figure after the loss.
"The Mariners were too good tonight. They were a far better side than us, they played better than us and deservedly won the game," Postecoglou said.
"The scoreline accurately reflected the difference in the two teams. We were poor everywhere tonight. Young and old we were poor, beginning with the head coach."