Stella hat-trick sparks Victory


Francesco Stella hit a late hat-trick as Melbourne Victory went top of the National Youth League with a 7-0 thrashing of Perth Glory at SS Anderson Reserve.

Francesco Stella hit a late hat-trick as Melbourne Victory went top of the National Youth League with a 7-0 thrashing of Perth Glory at SS Anderson Reserve.

A Sam Gallagher brace and Andrew Nabbout strike established a solid lead for Victory before substitute Stella scored a treble in the last 23 minutes with John Buceto rounding out the game with a late goal.

After a cagey opening where neither team could carve out a chance, former Perth youth product Jesse Makarounas should have opened the scoring for Victory on 14 minutes when his shot from the six-yard box was deflected over the bar for a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Melbourne took the lead when Gallagher flicked Luke O’Dea’s corner on and it struck the far-post on its way into the net.

Four minutes later the lead was doubled as Nabbout flicked the ball past his marker, beat him for pace and then drove past two defenders to finish past goalkeeper Jordan Franken.

Perth nearly pulled one back in the 24th minute when Ndumba Makeche got to the ball before Victory custodian Tando Velaphi and his chip bounced just wide of the right post.

Connor Pain struck the woodwork a minute later from a tight angle after getting outside his marker and Nabbout could only lash the rebound straight at the keeper.

Makarounas squandered two more chances to open his account through the 40th minute when his overhead kick was saved by Franken, and he placed a shot off the crossbar from outside the area a short time after.

Gallagher got his brace and made it three for Victory 10 minutes after the restart when he placed a looping first-time volley in the top corner leaving Franken with no chance.

The Victory attack started to stretch the Perth defence and Stella got his first after 77 minutes after Christopher Cristaldo’s shot struck the post leaving the former Rangers player with an empty net.

Two minutes later, Stella got another as he tapped in Matthew Foschini’s low cross from the byline at the back post.

Perth had Franken to thank for the scoreline not being worse as he made several world-class saves throughout the 90 minutes.

But the Glory stopper couldn’t deny Stella a hat-trick as the forward lashed a low shot inside the post in the 90th minute before Buceto scored Melbourne’s seventh on 94 minutes when he found space inside the area.

The thumping victory sends Victory to first in the league after Central Coast’s 2-0 loss to Brisbane while Perth hover around mid-table with Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Heart still to play.

Melbourne Victory 7 (Gallagher 15, 55, Nabbout 20, Stella 77, 79, 90, Buceto 90+4)
Perth Glory 0

Melbourne Victory: 1. Tando Velaphi (GK), 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Jason Geria, 4. Sam Gallagher, 5. Dylan Murnane, 6. Kwabena Boahene, 8. James Jeggo, 9. Luke O’Dea (c) (7. Christopher Cristaldo 45), 10. Connor Pain (14. Francesco Stella 45), 11. Jesse Makarounas (12. John Buceto 53), 15. Andrew Nabbout

Yellow Cards: Foschini 13, Boahene 32, Velaphi 65

Perth Glory : 1. Jordan Franken (GK), 2. Storm Roux, 3. Ryan Lowry, 4. Riley Woodcock (c), 5. Evan Berger (14. Jacob Collard 56), 6. Blamo Quaqua, 7. Matthew Davies, 8. Slobodan Vulin, 9. Ndumba Makeche, 10. Harry O’Brien (13. Lawrence Shuruma 23), 11. Andrew Higgins (12. Borbor Sam 56)

Yellow Cards: Sam 93