Besart Berisha has powered an effervescent Melbourne Victory past A-League upstarts Newcastle Jets with the decisive goal in a 2-1 win on Friday night.
The A-League’s all-time leading scorer celebrated his contract extension signed this month with a superb goal to take his side to third on the ladder.
Berisha’s finish came after Kosta Barbarouses and Jason Hoffman traded first-half efforts.
More than the result — Victory’s third win in a row — coach Kevin Muscat will celebrate his team’s return to top gear.
Victory were stylish and sharp, and could have put the game to bed during a rampaging second-half spell if not for Mark Milligan’s tame penalty attempt.
Leroy George was uncontainable on the left, while Jason Geria impressed once more on the right.
The Jets had the best of an upbeat opening half-hour before Victory scored with their first shot.
Geria was released down the right by Milligan and cut back for the Kiwi international, who steered a half-volley past Glen Moss.
Victory surged, with Leroy George rattling the woodwork at AAMI Park’s river end for a second straight week.
Ernie Merrick’s team then put a spanner in the works, coming good on their early intent with just seconds remaining in the half.
Steven Ugarkovic played a perfect ball through the middle, allowing Hoffman to race through the heart of the Victory defence and stroke under Lawrence Thomas.
The 28-year-old’s goal matched his tally at AAMI Park for the four seasons he spent with Melbourne City, and made up for fluffing a clear header from Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s chip on 10 minutes.
After the break, George continued where he picked up, raking a curling ball across goal which Barbarouses could only send into the side-netting with Moss away from home.
Muscat’s side were in the mood again and his main man did the business on 53 minutes.
Milligan’s clutch tackle on Ugarkovic allowed George to release the Kosovo international, who buried his strike past Moss at the near post.
Berisha — on his leanest start to an A-League season to date — celebrated richly, kissing the ground in front of Victory’s active support.
It should have been three shortly after when Geria ghosted behind Ivan Vujica and had his heels clipped.
But Milligan got away with the botched effort, in contrast to his derby winner six days earlier, as Victory hung on for another three points.
Merrick’s side stay second with the result, but enter next week’s date with Sydney FC off the back of their first loss in a month.