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2017/18 Australian A-League, 2017 Australian A-League
  • Leroy George (15')
  • Besart Berisha (25', 54', 74')
  • Christian Theoharous (83')
  • Connor Pain (87', 90'+7')

Besart Berisha hits hat trick as Melbourne Victory thrash Central Coast Mariners

Besart Berisha and Kevin Muscat continued their reign of pain over Central Coast Mariners as Melbourne Victory romped to a 5-2 win at AAMI Park.

Berisha scored his first hat trick in 15 months and Muscat lengthened his unbeaten coaching streak over the minnows to 15 matches in a Sunday stroll for the A-League heavyweights.

Leroy George's opener and Christian Theoharous' late stunner bookended Berisha's work to earn Victory a third straight win, lifting them over rivals Melbourne City to third in the table.

Victory's late season revival has come too late to challenge for the premiership -- which is a shootout between Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets.

But on this form, Victory will eagerly await a finals campaign in which they must feel they can threaten.

Chief behind their confidence is George. The uncontracted Dutchman's asking price to stay at Victory beyond this season grew again after an unplayable performance. He romped away from Jake McGing to blast home on 15 minutes before setting up Berisha for a second 10 minutes later.

More trickery contributed to Berisha's second on 54 minutes -- with James Troisi selflessly laying the ball back for the Kosovo international.

George's dogged pursuit of the ball allowed substitute Terry Antonis to cross for Berisha's third; a back-post header that secured the veteran a perfect treble.

George now holds the record for most assists in a Victory campaign, while Berisha's goals have him in double figures for the seventh straight season.

After a week that included a defeat of J.League champions Kawasaki Frontale in the Asian Champions League, Muscat said he "couldn't be happier."

"Because we're building. Building some momentum, how we want to play, what we want to look like and I thought it was an outstanding performance off the back of a really good attitude," he said.

Paul Okon, coaching the Mariners for the 50th time, could barely have had a worse day. His team played with low intensity, butchered chances and saw Antony Golec stretchered off with a broken leg in the first half.

Bronx cheers broke out when Connor Pain atoned for Daniel De Silva's incredible miss by burying Trent Buhagiar's cross in the 87th minute. The ex-Victory winger doubled up with a sharp shot behind Lawrence Thomas in the 96th minute.

"Happy for Connor that he gets two goals. Two very good goals," he said. "We know that Victory is the best in the competition at punishing you when you make mistakes ... their top four are clinical. That's exactly how it went."

Laying on the misery, Okon had to endure 17 minutes of stoppage time.

There was nine in the first half for Golec's injury and eight in the second for a broken net that incredibly required Kosta Barbarouses to climb the goalframe to tape it back into place.

Australian A-League Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS