Robbie, Melbourne run riot

A first-half Robbie Kruse hat-trick has seen Melbourne return to form in emphatic fashion as the defending champions sent a huge warning out to their rivals with a 6-2 win over Perth Glory at Etihad Stadium.

A first-half Robbie Kruse hat-trick has seen Melbourne return to form in emphatic fashion as the defending champions sent a huge warning out to their rivals with a 6-2 win over Perth Glory at Etihad Stadium.

In a game which featured the second most amount of goals in any Hyundai A-League match, Kruse joined Archie Thompson as the only players to have scored a hat-trick for Melbourne.

More importantly for Melbourne, which was coming off two consecutive losses, it moves back within a point of Sydney in the battle for the Premiers' Plate with the Sky Blues to meet third-placed Gold Coast on Sunday.

Thompson started the rot in just the fourth minute, before Kruse netted in the 12th, 26th and 39th, while Rody Vargas put one in his own net on 20 minutes. Kevin Muscat and Carlos Hernandez added goals late in the game to complete the rout.

Perth, meanwhile, has much to contemplate, despite pulling it back to 4-2 in the second half when Mile Sterjovski fired home an excellent goal in the 52nd minute. The Glory have now gone seven away games without a win, have not won in seven trips to Melbourne and could find themselves outside the top six at the end of the round.

Perth's defence was in disarray in the first half and Melbourne was quick to take advantage. In just the fourth minute, Hernandez, who punished the Glory in the previous match they played, was afforded far too much space. He steered his pass to Thompson, who did well to angle the shot in past Tando Velaphi for his first goal in six matches.

On 12 minutes it was 2-0 after a horrible pass from Chris Coyne went straight to Hernandez again. He flicked a pass on quickly to Kruse, who was one-on-one with the Perth keeper. The 21-year-old finished with ease.

Perth got back into contest briefly on 20 minutes, courtesy of a bizarre goal from a Jacob Burns corner. Melbourne keeper Mitch Langerak failed to get his hands to the ball and Jamie Harnwell's gentle touch saw the ball hit Vargas and go in the net.

But despite that it was clear that it was Melbourne's night and after Hernandez was twice denied when one -on-one with Velaphi, Kruse was on hand to convert a sensational length-of-the-field move.

Nick Ward started it out on the left, hammering a long pass across field to Thompson, who flicked the ball to Tom Pondeljak. Pondeljak's cross was superb and Kruse knocked it home.

It was all going wrong for Perth with Harnwell and Chris Coyne booked, before Coyne departed for Daniel McBreen after just 38 minutes.

But on 39 minutes, Jamie Coyne joined his brother in the comedy-bloopers tape when Vargas looped an optimistic pass forward and the Perth midfielder had close to an air-swing. Kruse could not believe his luck running onto the ball and beating Velaphi for a first half hat-trick.

Perth looked a lot more organised in the second half and seven minutes in pulled it back to 4-2. Ward had just missed and excellent chance up the other end when the ball fell to the Glory's marquee man Sterjovski on the halfway line. He ran hard at the Victory defence, opened up some space for himself and fired with his left.

With a sniff of a comeback, the visitors began to look more purposeful in attack, with Jacob Burns and Sterjovski both shooting from distance.

In a game full of chances, Thompson and Hernandez both spoiled their opportunities to extend Melbourne's lead, while Vargas preserved the two-goal lead with a goal-line clearance after Scott Bulloch's shot was saved.

But the result was secured when Thompson was brought down in the box by Burns on 81 minutes and Kevin Muscat hit his second penalty in as many weeks. Marvin Angulo then set up Hernandez a minute later for the simplest of finishes.

Melbourne Victory 6 (Thompson 4, Kruse 12, 26, 29, Muscat 81, Hernandez 82) Perth Glory 2 (Vargas (og) 20, Sterjovski 52) Crowd: 20,448 at Etihad Stadium