Smeltz breaks A-League goal scoring record

Last updated 07:14 25/03/2012
Shane Smeltz
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Shane Smeltz celebrates one of his four goals for Perth Glory against Mebourne Victory in round 25 of the A League.

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New Zealand's Shane Smeltz has became the highest goalscorer in A-League history with a bag of four goals in Perth Glory's 4-2 triumph over Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium on Saturday night.

The Glory, minus the likes of injured trio Jacob Burns, Bas van den Brink and Liam Miller, looked to be in trouble when Mark Milligan's goal in first-half stoppage time put the Victory 2-1 ahead.

But Smeltz, who opened his account in the 23rd minute to cancel out Carlos Hernandez's early strike, was at his dominant best in  the second half, scoring another three goals within the space of 18 minutes to seal victory.

Smeltz's four goals brought his A-League career tally to 62, edging past Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson (60 goals).

But even more importantly, the win put Perth in the box seat to finish third on the table.

The Glory will finish third as long as fourth-placed Wellington don't defeat Central Coast by three or more goals on Sunday.

Third spot would not only guarantee Perth a home elimination final, they would also secure a home minor semifinal should they make it past the first round.

The Glory will take on either Melbourne Heart, Newcastle or Sydney in next week's do-or-die clash.

''Personally to score some goals is nice,'' Smeltz said after the match.

''I think it's going to be tough for anyone to come here. We're just looking forward to the finals.''

Melbourne had no answers to Smeltz's white-hot form.

The 9724 fans had little to cheer about when Hernandez latched on to a beautiful through-ball from Fabio to open the scoring in the 22nd minute.

But Smeltz replied a minute later, heading into an open net after a defensive mix-up between Victory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi and defender Matthew Foschini.

Victory defender Ubay Luzardo was left winded approaching half-time when he copped a clear elbow to the chest from Smeltz.

But it was the Glory who were left stunned in first-half stoppage time when Milligan reacted quickest to Fabio's long-range  strike, latching on to the loose ball to power through Victory's second goal.

However, it was all Glory - and more specifically Smeltz - from  there.

Smeltz nabbed his second in the 48th minute with a beautiful glancing header off Andrezinho's free kick, and the hat-trick was complete when he clinically nailed a 61st-minute penalty after Milligan brought down Billy Mehmet.

The crowd were in raptures in the 66th minute when Smeltz's curling effort from the edge of the box found the back of the net.

''Strikers can go through these barren spells where they miss chances or don't score goals or they're not playing well. But you can always rely on Smeltzy,'' Glory coach Ian Ferguson said.

''He's that type of player that will bounce back, shut the critics up and he'll put the goals in the net, and that's what he did tonight.

''He looked very sharp, and he looked really sharp during the  week.''

In an added bonus for Glory, defender Scott Neville made a successful return after recovering from a serious knee injury.

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Victory coach Jim Magilton conceded his side were blown off the park in the second half.

''Second half we didn't get started, and fell behind and didn't recover. That probably sums up our season really,'' Magilton said.

It was a disappointing end to the season for Victory, who finished well adrift of the top-six despite boasting a star-studded squad.

- AAP

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