Newcastle’s finals hopes appear over after succumbing 4-0 to a clinical Melbourne City at CB Smith Reserve on Sunday.
The win elevated the three-time defending champions to 16 points and on level terms with fourth-placed Perth and left the Jets six points off the pace with just two rounds remaining in the season proper.
Mathematically, it is still possible for Newcastle to finish in the top four but it would take a Herculean effort and a range of results to go in their favour, including Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and City all losing games left. The Jets also must win both remaining matches by large margins as their goal difference is not great. At best they could end up on 16 points and on level terms with at least one other side.
Both teams were desperate for victory heading into the round-12 match in Melbourne and Newcastle coach Craig Deans named an unchanged line-up from their impressive 3-1 victory over Perth. That line-up was without injured big guns Emily van Egmond, Taylor Smith and Katie Stengel.
City led 2-0 at the break after two goals in the space of six minutes in the latter stages of the first period and continued the dominance in the second half.
They broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Yukari Kinga scored from the penalty spot after Cassidy Davis brought down Tameka Butt inside the box.
Yakuri buried her shot into the left corner, past an outstretched Britt Eckerstrom.
The hosts extended the lead when Steph Catley was left unmarked at the back post on a corner and headed home in the 37th minute.
Deans pushed defender Larissa Crummer forward to spark the attack for the second half and she almost provided in the 51st minute.
The Matildas player tore forward with the ball, drew two defenders then slipped the ball through City’s backline to find Arin Wright, who scored only to be ruled offside.
City broke the hearts of the Jets in the 58th minute when Kinga scored from close range.
Then Hailie Mace killed off the game with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner in the 69th minute after a good cross in from the right by Butt.
Going into the match, Newcastle had not beaten City in six previous outings.
The Jets take on Adelaide in Adelaide on Friday night before returning to host Western Sydney Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on February 2.
Meanwhile, Caitlin Foord scored a double to help Sydney FC defy old rivals Brisbane Roar and some gruelling Queensland heat for a crucial 3-1 victory at Lions Stadium on Saturday.
Adelaide United's hopes of ending their finals' drought suffered a potentially mortal blow as the previously winless Western Sydney Wanderers collected an unexpected 4-1 away victory on Saturday.
Canberra United await news of the rescheduling of their crucial match against leaders Melbourne Victory.
The match was postponed on Thursday evening after just 16 minutes was played with lightning strikes around Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan.