Western United continued their rich vein of form with a last-gasp 2-1 win over defending champions Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval in a match that could prove to be a dress rehearsal for the A-League grand final.
Steven Lustica bagged a 90th-minute winner on the counter-attack for a United side who were on the back foot for periods of the second half after star forwards Alessandro Diamanti and Besart Berisha were substituted.
If faltering Premiers Plate winners Sydney FC needed a high-intensity test before the finals they got just that on Saturday evening but, despite an improved showing, the result left them without a win in their past five matches.
After being in a tight battle to make the top-six just a week ago, Western United will finish third should they defeat second-placed Melbourne City in the final match of the regular season on Wednesday.
"I thought this was up there with one of this club's best-ever results," Western United coach Mark Rudan said.
"To play the premiers and champions on their own turf and to come away with a result like that, I just thought it was a fantastic performance.
"We had full faith before the match that we could get a result like that."
Diamanti set-up United's opener on 21 minutes when his deflected strike landed in the path of Berisha who was left with a simple tap-in.
Superstar import Diamanti narrowly failed to net one of the goals of the season minutes later when his 50-metre effort bounced back off the crossbar with Sky Blues goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne stranded.
Sydney were given impetus by the return of full-back Rhyan Grant from a groin injury, but they were perhaps guilty of being overly intricate in attack during the first half.
Adam Le Fondre netted a deserved equaliser seven minutes after the break with a neat close-range header from Luke Brattan's dipping delivery - to join Melbourne City's Jamie Maclaren at the top of the golden boot chart.
But for all their promise going forward, the Sky Blues only managed to test opposition goalkeeper Filip Kurto on a couple of occasions.
"We conceded two goals tonight and still have a bit of work to do defensively," Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
"We got into their final third quite a bit but the final pass was a problem especially in the second half."
It was meant to be a gala event for the Sky Blues as they were presented after the match with the trophy they sealed weeks ago for top spot after 26 rounds.
Instead the final match of their regular season could come at a cost with Michael Zullo forced off with hamstring tightness early in the match with the left-back labouring through an injury-hit season.
Australian Associated Press