Burgess nets 19 minute hat-trick as Western United inflict more misery on the Mariners
Max Burgess scored a first-half hat-trick as Western United FC re-ignited their finals hopes with a 6-2 drubbing of Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
Burgess had never scored in any of his previous 44 Hyundai A-League appearances but made a mockery of that drought with a treble in a crazy first half where six goals were scored.
Berisha netted the first of those – his 19th against the Mariners – before the visitors replied through a Chris Harold penalty.
That’s when Burgess took over, netting three goals in the space of 19 minutes as United took control, although there was still enough time for a stunning Gianni Stensness overhead goal before the break.
Burgess is the first Western United FC player to score a hat-trick in the Hyundai A-League, while skipper Alessandro Diamanti finished with three assists for the match.
The frantic nature of the contest settled in the second half, with Andrew Durante’s goal and a late Berisha strike the only additions as United ensured their final match at GMHBA Stadium this season ended in a win.
United’s emphatic victory brings to an end a worrying form slump that saw them fail to win or score in their three games in February. In fact, their four goals in the first half was the same amount of shots they had on target in their previous three matches combined.
Mark Rudan’s side have jumped up to seventh spot on the ladder, two points outside the top six ahead of Brisbane Roar’s clash with Melbourne City on Sunday night.
The Mariners remain rooted to the foot of the ladder and have now lost their last seven games in a row.
Dream start for United
After failing to score a goal in all of February, it took less than nine minutes into March for United to find the net.
And it was a familiar source with Berisha rising highest to nod in a sensational free-kick delivery from Alessandro Diamanti.
It was Berisha’s 19th goal against the Mariners, his equal-best tally against a single opponent along with Adelaide United.
Mariners reply from the spot
Jack Clisby’s cross is flicked on by Harold, with the ball popping up and striking the arm of defender Tomi Uskok.
After the referee decided it was worthy of a penalty, Harold took the responsibility on his shoulders and sent Filip Kurto the wrong way to level the scores on 19 minutes.
Burgess breaks his goal drought
Playing in his 45th match in the Hyundai A-League, Burgess finally bagged his first goal with a sweet finish on 25 minutes.
After the Mariners gave possession away in their own half, Diamanti drove forward before attempting to pick out Burgess on the edge of the box.
The ball made it through to the young attacker off Mariners midfielder Kim Eun-Son, with Burgess cutting inside onto his right foot and hitting a well-placed, low shot into the bottom corner.
Burgess at the double
It didn’t take long for Burgess to double his career tally, doubling United’s lead just five minutes later.
The ball broke to Connor Pain on the edge of the box and he played a smart reverse ball to Burgess, who fired across Birighitti into the far corner.
The goal was checked by VAR for a possible offside but given the all-clear.
First-half hatty for Burgess
Burgess dream half got even better just before the break as he completed his treble with the simplest of finishes.
Berisha deserved plenty of the credit as it was his shot which cannoned back off the post and straight into the path of Burgess to tap in to an open net.
Stensness shows off his acrobatics
Just as it looked like the Mariners were out of the match they pegged one back before the break with a stunner from Stensness.
United failed to clear a corner with the ball eventually looping into the path of the young Kiwi who produced a jaw-dropping bicycle kick which flew past Kurto into the net.
United net a fifth on the hour
It was only a matter of time before another goal was scored and it went to the home side 15 minutes after the break.
Diamanti was again the architect, flighting an inviting cross from the right to the far post where a host of players contested for the ball.
United defender Andrew Durante was among them, appearing to get the final touch before Birighitti clawed it out but VAR confirmed the goal as the ball had crossed the line.
Berisha puts the icing on the cake
United were showing no signs of slowing down and got another in the final minute through Berisha.
Josh Risdon got free down the right and put in an inch-perfect cross which fell to the feet of the striker who buried it easily to net his 20th goal against the Mariners.
That's the most goals against a single club by an individual by any player in Hyundai A-League history.
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Adelaide United v Western United FC
Saturday, 7 March
Kick off: 4.30pm local, 5pm AEDT
Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix
Sunday, 8 March
Central Coast Stadium
Kick off: 4pm AEDT
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