A Sarpreet Singh gave Wellington Phoenix hope of avoiding the A-League wooden spoon and dented the confidence of Melbourne City on the eve of the finals.
The 19-year-old showed why he's a bright light in an otherwise dismal year for the Phoenix in their 2-1 victory on Saturday night, breaking a 1-1 half time stalemate with a strike that took a deflection past City keeper Dean Bouzanis.
Caretaker coach Chris Greenacre was ecstatic his team weathered City's early pressure and fought back to show fans and the league Phoenix "hadn't given up".
"We've got a dressing room there with guys who really want to get off the bottom of the table," he said.
Having already secured third spot, City entered the Auckland game looking to make it four wins on the trot and build confidence heading into the finals.
After dominating early, it looked business as usual for City as Bruno Fomaroli pounced on a loose ball and thumped a cracking right foot that curled past the Phoenix keeper from the edge of the box.
Yet just as they had shown a week earlier against Melbourne Victory, the New Zealand club proved they are difficult to put away.
Singh soon curled a perfect pass into the box and path of striker Roy Krishna, who rushed on to the ball but was only able to head straight to the outstretched paw of Bouzanis.
The Phoenix pair were soon involved in another attack as this time Krishna intercepted a loose ball that ended at Singh's feet.
Singh wheeled on to his favoured left foot in the middle of a nest of City defenders to score at the far post. Singh then broke the deadlock early in the second half with a long-range strike.
Greenacre heaped praise on Singh, saying he had a big future now he was adding "goals to his game".
A frustrated City coach Warren Joyce was more circumspect.
While acknowledging City had secured its best regular season finish and entry into the Asian Champions League, he said the loss upset preparations for the finals, especially as goals were conceded through a "lack of discipline".
"You can make excuses and say it will be all right next week but you've got to be better than that," he said.
City now await the outcome of the rest of the weekend's matches to see who they face in the first week of the finals, while the Phoenix will also watch see if they have avoided the wooden spoon.
Their win lifted them one point above the Central Coast Mariners, who take on second-placed Newcastle in Saturday's late game.