Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is hopeful Robbie Kruse's breakthrough hat-trick will be the making of the young striker before the A-League finals.
Kruse scored a first-half treble in Saturday night's 6-2 thrashing of Perth Glory at Etihad Stadium in a win which moved the Victory to second on the table, one point behind ladder-leading Sydney.
Merrick said he was pleased with the way Kruse, 21, had improved since crossing from the Brisbane Roar last year.
"Robbie just seems to get better every week and he's moved from being a wide player to being a more central striker," Merrick said.
"I spoke to him before the game and said that last little bit, sometimes it's just opportunistic goals, being in the right spot, having that sort of awareness of what's going to fall in the penalty box for you.
"Often (for) strikers a lot of goals are just tap-ins, but I thought all his goals were really well taken.
"It was really Kruse control ... he did come of age as a striker and it was terrific to see."
The Victory's win, with attackers Carlos Hernandez and Archie Thompson also in brilliant touch, avenged two poor defeats on the road, and left Merrick hopeful his side had snapped out of their malaise.
"We had a couple of bad games but over this whole season we've played some fantastic football and that's one of the reasons why we're second top and now our goal difference (10) looks really good," he said.
"You've just got to understand as a coach that you can't play at your best every week.
"We've had two weeks where we've had a lot of players down, but then (against Perth) they bounced back and there wasn't a bad player in the Melbourne Victory side."