Shane Smeltz 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 semi-final 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.
And in an added bonus for Glory, defender Scott Neville made a successful return after recovering from a serious knee injury.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Victory, who finished well adrift of the top-six despite boasting a star-studded squad.