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Classy Victory make light work of Mariners

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/02/2017 Emma Kemp

Melbourne Victory have halted Central Coast's A-League revival to fire themselves within eight points of Sydney FC a day after the leaders suffered their first defeat of the season.

Golden boot leader Besart Berisha celebrated his 150th league appearance with a goal in each half on Sunday to sandwich James Troisi's 58th-minute strike in Gosford, and stop the ninth-placed Mariners claiming a fourth consecutive win in their push for an unlikely play-off spot.

For Victory, it was a valuable three points after a five-game run punctuated by just one win, and keeps them in the hunt for the Premiers' Plate.

Performance wise too, their dominance signalled a return to a level coach Kevin Muscat has grown accustomed to watching as Berisha, Troisi and Marco Rojas rediscovered the attacking freedom sorely missed in last week's Newcastle stalemate.

Both sides enjoyed opportunities in a high-tempo start but the Mariners, while threatening going forward, rarely tested goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and allowed Victory too much space to play with.

It was all too evident 25 minutes in, when the visitors carved through their hosts' defence with ease for an excellent team goal.

Rojas started the play, passing to Daniel Georgievski, who was lurking in the box and crossed to the centre where Berisha was ready for the tap-in.

The Mariners will have considered themselves lucky to enter halftime just one goal down after Rojas, found by Troisi, skewed a shot wide of the post and the latter hit the woodwork.

Troisi, in superb form that will surely have him back into Socceroos contention, turned scorer in the second stanza.

Soon after Jake McGing stopped Berisha doubling the lead he was cheaply robbed by the 28-time international, who embarked on a solo foray before firing past Paul Izzo from an acute angle.

Berisha landed the killer blow in injury-time, burying his 16th goal of the season from an equally tight angle.

Adam Berry, starting in midfield for suspended captain Nick Montgomery, came closest to shortening the deficit, rifling a long-range shot just wide.

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