A four-goal blitz in the opening 30 minutes made all the difference as Melbourne Victory stormed to a 5-2 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday evening, highlighted by a Kayla Morrison hat-trick.
Victory returned to AAMI Park for the first time this season in red-hot form having won their previous two games.
Jeff Hopkins’ side could hardly have asked for a better start against the Jets, catching their opponents cold twice in the opening ten minutes.
The first major opportunity of the game arose after just five minutes, when a late challenge on Alana Murphy in the box resulted in the award of a penalty.
Melina Ayres stepped up to the spot and showed her quality with a clinical finish, handing Victory a 1-0 lead.
Ayres came into the game in excellent form, having scored three times in her previous two games.
The striker though was not resting on her laurels as she added another to her tally just a couple of minutes later.
Alex Chidiac was the creator of the second goal, cleverly sliding the ball through to Ayres who worked her way past Newcastle goalkeeper Claire Coelho before finishing the chance into an empty net.
Victory showed no mercy to their opponents, as they continued to pile on the pressure with chances being created on a regular basis.
Captain Kayla Morrison added her name to the scoresheet soon after with a textbook header having found herself in space from a corner in the 19th minute.
Incredibly, the centre-back secured a brace of her own five minutes later when she got the final touch on Beattie Goad’s delivery into the area following another set-piece.
A truly magical start from Victory, who found themselves 4-0 up within the opening half an hour.
The defending Champions saw out the remainder of the half with their lead intact.
Hopkins was forced to look to his bench just before the hour mark when goalkeeper Casey Dumont sustained an injury, opening the door for Miranda Templeman to play her first minutes of the season.
At the same time, Victory’s newest signing Rikke Madsen was brought into the game for her first appearance for the club.
The Jets pulled a goal back immediately following the changes thanks to a long-range effort from Sarah Griffith, before Ash Brodigan made it 4-2 with a sweet strike of her own.
Victory though snuffed out the Jets’ resurgence in the final few minutes of play, when Morrison secured a remarkable hat-trick with another goal following a corner.
5-2 the full-time score in a highly impressive showing from the reigning Champions.
Three consecutive wins for Victory means their slow start to the season is well and truly behind them as they charge towards the top four.
Melina Ayres’ second goal was the pick of the bunch, created by Alex Chidiac’s brilliant through-ball before the striker expertly navigated the one-on-one situation to beat the opposition goalkeeper.
PLAYER IN FOCUS
Kayla Morrison is best known for her leadership and defensive attributes, but stole the show on Sunday evening with a hat-trick.
The Victory captain proved she is a threat at both ends of the pitch and will take plenty of confidence from her strong showing against the Jets.
Victory now find themselves on the cusp of the top four, with nine points from five games a respectable return to begin their Championship defence.
Liberty A-League 2022/23 Round 5
Melbourne Victory 5 (Ayres (pen) 6′, 8′, Morrison 19′, 25′, 87′)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Griffith 59′, Brodigan 73′)
Victory will enjoy a week off over Christmas, before returning to action in a 3:00pm New Year’s Eve clash with Canberra United at CB Smith Reserve.