Costa Rican duo Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham returned from international duty with telling effect as the Wellington Phoenix beat Adelaide United 2-1 on Saturday in their A-League clash in Auckland.
Hernandez, who was a constant threat in midfield, scored the first goal from the spot.
He created the other in the shadow of halftime for Cunningham, who produced a slick finish.
Substitute Awer Mabil scored a late consolation for the visitors, turning home a Jeronimo Neumann cross in second-half stoppage time.
The result at Eden Park ended the Reds' seven-match unbeaten run.
It also lifted the Phoenix to just a point behind their opponents, who had started the round in sixth place.
The encounter in front of 18,056 fans had a cagey start before plenty of end-to-end football unfolded.
But sides had chances before Hernandez provided the breakthrough in the 22nd minute.
Phoenix striker Stein Huysegems, moments earlier, had been foiled by keeper Eugene Galekovic after being put in a one-on-one situation by a great Hernandez pass.
When the ball ended up back in the penalty area, Hernandez and defender Daniel Bowles collided and referee Peter Green pointed to the spot.
Hernandez stood up, winked at Galekovic, before sending the keeper the wrong way.
Huysegems had another great opportunity 10 minutes later to add to his season's tally of eight goals.
But he hit a post and then, having fallen on his backside, put the rebound against the crossbar.
Adelaide chased the equaliser, pushing Bowles and fellow full-back Tarek Elrich forward, while Jeronimo was proving a handful out wide on the left.
But they fell further behind in the 44th minute.
Hernandez, in heavy traffic on halfway, managed to get a ball to Cunningham, who sped down the touchline before cutting back to fire a shot into the corner of the net.
The attacking intent from both sides continued into the second half, with Cunningham and Adelaide defender Jon McKain having chances shortly after the restart.
With half an hour to go, Jeronimo had a shot blocked by Cunningham and it ricocheted against a post.
At the other end, Phoenix substitute Jeremy Brockie had a couple of late openings but couldn't capitalise, before Mabil had the last word.
Newcastle snatched a dramatic a 2-2 A-League draw with high-flyers Western Sydney, with an Adam Taggart goal at the death stealing a point for the Jets on Saturday.
Taggart produced a long-range missile to put the hosts in front at Hunter Stadium before netting his eighth of the season in injury time.
Aaron Mooy and skipper Michael Beauchamp returned fire for the Wanderers in what was a see-sawing battle.
But the drama didn't end at the final whistle with striker Joel Griffiths bizarrely red-carded after fulltime for dissent in a dramatic homecoming for the striker.
For the first time this season, Tony Popovic fielded the same starting XI in consecutive games, retaining the side who dominated Perth last week.
But the Jets were dealt an early blow, forced to withdraw marquee man Emile Heskey from the starting side at the 11th hour after the striker suffered back spasms in the warm-up with Nicky Ward his replacement.
The Wanderers immediately took control of the match putting the Jets under pressure from the get go.
But, against the run of play, Newcastle somehow took the lead in the 27th minute.
Andrew Hoole weaved his way through the Wanderers' defence but, finding himself at a dead end in the box, played the ball back with Taggart leaping onto it to fire his superb strike from 25 meters out.
Desperately chasing an equaliser, it wasn't long before the Wanderers found one with dead-ball specialist Mooy doing what he does best, slotting home from a free-kick from about 20 metres out just before the break.
Prodigal son Griffiths came on as a substitute in the 64th minute, stepping onto the Hunter stadium pitch for the first time in almost five years to a rousing reception from the 15,924-strong crowd.
But the excitement was short-lived with the Wanderers taking the lead the next minute.
Shinji Ono caused a goal-mouth scramble with a perfectly placed corner into the box with keeper Mark Birighitti attempting to diffuse the danger before a Josh Brillante clearance rebounded off Beauchamp's shoulder into the net.
Taggart then levelled with an equally scrappy effort after getting onto a ball from Hoole in the dying minutes.
But just as the Jets were set to celebrate, Wanderers gloveman Ante Covic swept the goal-bound Taggart off his feet.
Griffiths appealed to the referee for a free-kick only to cop a red card after the whistle was blown.