Auckland City extended their unbeaten run to 25 ASB Premiership matches on Thursday, securing their third straight minor premiership with a 4-0 victory over Southern United in Dunedin.
The visitors scored either side of halftime at Forsyth Barr Stadium and twice in the last 10 minutes to take the result which confirms Ramon Tribulietx's team as the top qualifier for the playoffs while consigning Southern to the wooden spoon.
Auckland had dominated possession during a first half which Southern United rarely had the ball in their attacking third. Despite the mountain of possession, Auckland City were unable to create any clear cut chances until Seamus Ryder brought down Joao Moreira in the box.
It was Moreira himself who stepped up and coolly slotted the ball past Southern keeper Tom Batty for a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute.
It was a torrid first half for Southern United as they lost both Harley Rodeka and Jude Fitzpatrick to injury. It did enable Lewis Jackson to come off the bench and provide Sam French with a run at goal but he was unable to convert the chance which meant Auckland took the one-goal lead into the halftime break.
After the re-start Auckland City were out of the blocks quickly as Ryan De Vries managed to surge past Alex Williams and send the ball beyond Batty for a 2-0 lead in the 47th minute.
The second half followed a similar trend to the first as Auckland again dominated possession although they managed to create more chances on goal leaving Southern thankful for the presence of Batty between the sticks.
The icing on the cake came for Auckland in the last 10 minutes of the game when Moreira doubled his tally for the match as he rifled his shot home in the 82nd minute.
Then after some nice build up play Andrew Milne had himself on the score sheet for the first time this season after putting the ball in off the upright in the 89th minute.
Tribulietx was content with yet another solid showing from his side, once again dictating the tempo of the match with a stranglehold on possession.
"I think we controlled the game since the start," Tribulietx said.
"The first half was difficult, we didn't create as many chances. I think the second half we could have capitalised a little bit more but I think overall, for the way we played, we deserved to win.
"We know that sooner or later the gaps will pop up and we'll penetrate and create our chances so it's always a matter of being a little bit patient."
Southern United's Mike Fridge reflected on another 90 minutes which saw his finish empty handed and with an empty tank.
"I'm disappointed to go down 4-0 when we were only 1-0 down at halftime," Fridge said.
"It was a very difficult first half, we had players missing tonight and then we lose our two most experiences players in Harley and Jude to injury in the first half.
"We've had to ask players to play out of position but I can't fault them for their effort. We actually had a couple of chances which we might have scored."
"They are the best team in the competition but I think 4-0 flatters them a little bit."