Brisbane Roar made a move but other finals contenders lost ground on runaway A-League leaders Sydney FC in round 17.
The Roar jumped to third spot with Brett Holman scoring a precious late winner against Western Sydney on Saturday night.
The 2-1 win allowed Brisbane to climb above Melbourne City, who were stunned by Newcastle 2-1 on Friday night and slip to fourth place on the ladder.
Sixth-placed Perth Glory also blew a golden opportunity to entrench themselves in the top six when Central Coast downed them 2-0 on Saturday night.
And Wellington Phoenix were unable to make in-roads with an away 2-2 draw with Adelaide United on Sunday afternoon – had they won, they would have been fifth but find themselves seventh.
Sydney’s 2-1 away win against Melbourne on Thursday night increased their view from the top, now 11 points clear of Victory (32 points), who next meet home- town rivals Melbourne City in a pivotal derby on Saturday night.
The Sky Blues are still undefeated in their astonishing season – 13 wins, four draws, having conceded just eight goals.
John Aloisi’s Brisbane are five points adrift of Victory after former Socceroo Holman’s triumphant return from a knee injury which had sidelined him since November.
Perth (21 points) and Newcastle (20) completed the top six.
Brisbane’s Holman scored his club’s winner in the third minute of injury time in a result coach Aloisi says answers critics of his team, who meet Sydney on Friday night.
“A lot of people question this group – I don’t know why,” Aloisi said.
“They never give up. They keep going. We spoke about it before the game – winners find a way to win.”
The result left Western Sydney in eighth spot, but still only two points outside the top six.
“To think we’re going home with nothing is hard to believe. I thought we were good for at least a point, if not three,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
Perth coach Kenny Lowe was another manager scratching his head after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Central Coast.
Lowe blamed concentration lapses for the end of his side’s five-game unbeaten stretch.
“We handed them two gifts,” Lowe said.
“At the moment we’re giving people chances to capitalise. They’re not playing through us or hurting us, we’re actually giving them goals … it’s not acceptable.
“The disappointing thing is that we’re consistently inconsistent.”
Glory gloveman Liam Reddy is also set to be suspended for next week’s home clash against Newcastle after copping a late red card for fouling Trent Buhagiar.