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Berisha hat-trick downs wasteful Wanderers

Besart Berisha leapt to the top of the A-League scoring charts, netting a hat-trick as Melbourne Victory downed Western Sydney 3-0 for the second time this season.

Berisha offered the wasteful Wanderers a masterclass in clinical finishing on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium to take his tally to eight and leapfrog previous leaders Andy Keogh and Bruno Fornaroli.

The result takes Victory within a point of second-placed Melbourne City with a game in hand while the Wanderers are left in sixth.

But a well-balanced, absorbing display of football will also be remembered more for Jai Ingham's nasty knee to the face of Wanderers defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis in the second half.

The Wanderers cried for a red card but referee Chris Beath produced a yellow, with replays suggesting Aspropotamitis was stopping Ingham from getting away.

On the whole, Victory were compact and encouraged the Wanderers to attack.

They duly obliged, probing their visitors time and again with forays of brilliant build-up play, always with Mitch Nichols and the diminutive Nicolas Martinez at the centre.

Yet Tony Popovic's men squandered chance after chance, and the biggest offender was Brendon Santalab.

The usually prolific scorer missed four solid opportunities in the first half including a goal-mouth header straight into the arms of Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas, and another close-range effort skied well over the bar.

In the end, Victory made theirs count - and preyed on a mistake from error-prone Wanderers gloveman Andrew Redmayne.

Redmayne, recalled only to replace suspended Jerrad Tyson, made some fine saves including a brave run off his line to deny Berisha, but his good work was undone when German import Maximilian Beister used his first A-League start to swing in a speculative shot from 30 metres out.

Redmayne was on alert but parried straight into the path of a circling Berisha, who had only to tap home for his first.

After the break, a pinpoint cross from substitute Ingham put Berisha's second on a plate as the Albanian put a first-time header home despite being flanked by two ineffective defenders.

He struck a third for good measure in the 92nd minute, closing in one on one with Redmayne and curling home with ease.