Besart Berisha showed why he’s still one of the best strikers in the A-League with a hat-trick in Melbourne Victory’s 5-2 win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday evening.

By his lofty standards it hasn’t been the finest campaign for Berisha, however he now has 12 goals from 21 appearances this season. Criticism has been received for accumulating too many offsides and questions have been asked as to whether the striker’s best is behind him.

He responded in fine style against the Mariners with a quality hat-trick that included finishes which proved he’s still got his attacking nous. He got over the offside issues as he found the bottom right, top left and was in the ideal position for a free header to be a crucial factor for Victory’s emphatic result.

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Berisha was clearly fired up for this game too after experiencing the disappointment of being substituted out of the AFC Champions League match against Kawasaki Frontale last week. Berisha vented his frustration as he made his way to the bench but that’s the sort of competitor he is.

Head coach Kevin Muscat credited Berisha for doing the right thing and moving on to produce a sensational performance in the A-League.

“I suppose that’s professional sport, everybody’s got an opinion,” said Muscat.

“If Besart’s biggest sin is his desire and will to win, I’ll take that any day.

“Last week’s events are well behind us, he responded and reacted today in very good fashion.

“When he took his goals he looked hungry for them and he was very clinical in his approach so I’m really happy and pleased for him.”

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When Berisha is in this type of mood he’ll remain one of the important cogs of an attack that can put Victory in real contention as a smokey for claiming more silverware this season.

He loves competing in the big games and provided Victory make the finals or even progress in the ACL he’ll have a great opportunity to step up again and highlight his worth to the Victory side. The chances will be there in a potent front three featuring teammates Leroy George and Kosta Barbarouses.

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.