Melbourne Victory slid to eight points off a finals berth in the A-League after suffering a 3-1 loss to Newcastle Jets at a rain-soaked AAMI Park on Saturday.
Weary Victory superstar Harry Kewell was hot and cold, scoring a penalty and missing another to end a tough week which included playing a starring role for the Socceroos against Saudi Arabia.
The sixth-placed Jets moved alongside Melbourne Heart on 34 points in the fourth-last round of the season as the Victory's finals hopes suffered a heavy blow.
Saturday's game, which drew a crowd of 12,457 fans, ended Victory's 15-match unbeaten streak at home.
Newcastle had claimed their winning advantage by halftime.
Ryan Griffiths opened the scoring for the Jets in the 20th minute and 19-year-old Jacob Pepper bagged a double after Kewell had slotted a penalty in the 24th minute.
After a long-range blast from Kewell was deflected by Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy in the 11th minute, Victory's Marco Rojas failed to capitalise on a fine cross from Carlos Hernandez a minute later.
Victory coach Jim Magilton benched Matthew Kemp in the 42nd minute in a bid to bolster the home team's poor defence. Kemp was furious, waving his hand dismissively as he stormed off down the tunnel.
The Victory botched two scoring chances just before halftime. Archie Thompson hit the crossbar then Kewell was awarded a penalty two minutes later and sent it high.
Hernandez summed up the Victory's night in the 58th minute when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper and tried a chip, succeeding only in tapping it gently into the advancing Kennedy's lap.
A cross from Hernandez allowed Jean Carlos Solorzano to head an attempt at goal which was saved by Kennedy in the 78th minute.
Hernandez was furious after being red-carded following his second yellow of the game in the 82nd minute, kicking the ball away and arguing with the Newcastle bench.
Magilton said the Victory had conceded three poor goals but he couldn't fault the commitment of his players.
"Defensive frailties have probably cost us all season," he said.
However he described Kemp's reaction when subbed off as "totally unacceptable".
Asked if it was Kemp's last game for the club, Magilton said: "Who knows?"
Magilton said Hernandez was unlucky to receive his second yellow card.
"Should he have shown restraint? Yes. (But) I didn't think it was a booking," he said.
Kewell said the Victory would not give up on their finals hopes.
"That was our first home defeat this season," Kewell said.
"We let in three sloppy goals ... it's heartbreaking.
"We're going to go up to Sydney next week and put on a good show."
Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond said the Jets had played some wonderful football in the first half.
He said the Victory were no longer intimidating sides and their confidence was down despite having big names such as Kewell, Thompson and Hernandez.
"The confidence levels, a little bit of doubt, that also gives the opposition teams more confidence and less doubt for themselves," the Jets coach said.
Newcastle's win was their first against the Victory in Melbourne since 2007/08, when they claimed the title under van Egmond.