Kruse scores treble for Melbourne
Robbie Kruse scored a first-half hat-trick as defending A-League champions Melbourne Victory ended a two-game losing streak in style with a 6-2 win over Perth Glory to keep the pressure on leaders Sydney.
Archie Thompson, the only other player to score a hat-trick for Melbourne, opened the scoring at Etihad Stadium with his first goal in six outings and, after Kruse ran riot before the break, a penalty from Kevin Muscat and Carlos Hernandez's late strike wrapped up the scoring in the closing stages.
Rodrigo Vargas' 20th-minute own goal briefly pulled Perth back to 2-1 while Mile Sterjovski scored their second in the 52nd minute.
With table-topping Sydney entertaining Gold Coast United on Sunday, Melbourne moved back up to second place ahead of Gold Coast - and within a point of the Sky Blues - with five games remaining.
Sixth-placed Perth currently occupy the final play-off place, but are just a point ahead of Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar, who suffered a 2-0 home defeat by Newcastle Jets.
"This game's gone, it was a shocker,'' said Perth coach Dave Mitchell. "We are bitterly disappointed with some elementary errors in defence and mistakes we made.''
At Suncorp Stadium, Newcastle strengthened their play-off position and moved back up to fourth with a sixth win in eight games.
Matt Thompson opened the scoring five minutes after the break before a penalty from Michael Bridges five minutes later sealed the three points.