Victory’s Matildas forward boosts chances of re-call with first hat-trick in 3 years

Emily Gielnik’s red-hot form continued with a memorable hat-trick as Melbourne Victory dispatched rivals Adelaide United 4-1 in the Liberty A-League.

The Matildas forward enhanced her growing case for an international re-call with her first hat-trick in three years to guide Victory to an eighth straight match without defeat on Sunday.

Gielnik, who has not played for the Olympics-bound Matildas since October 2022 due to fitness issues, has now scored six goals in four matches after celebrating her first three-goal haul since scoring thrice for Brisbane Roar against Adelaide on March 12, 2021.

Her seven goals for the season are her best return since 2020-21 when she scored 13 for Brisbane.

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Kayla Morrison was also on target for Victory who are fourth in the standings but just three points adrift of league-leading Western United through 19 rounds, while Adelaide remain second from bottom.

Sunday’s match was meant to be part of a Pride Celebration double-header at Coopers Stadium on Saturday, however, it was pushed back 24 hours due to extreme heat.

Victory made a fast start away to the Reds thanks to Gielnik, who popped up in the ninth minute to set the tone.

A corner found Gielnik at the front post and the striker flicked the ball into the back of the net.

Adelaide should have been level in the 21st minute but Chelsie Dawber’s effort somehow stayed out after her shot bounced back off the underside of the crossbar without crossing the line.

At the other end, Gielnik doubled the lead in the 32nd minute when she sprung the offside trap and curled the ball beyond Annalee Grove.

The Reds nearly reduced the deficit approaching the hour mark, though the outstretched Courtney Newbon produced a stunning diving save to thwart Isabel Hodgson.

Gielnik completed her hat-trick with a simple tap-in in the 67th minute but Hodgson got on the scoresheet for the Reds five minutes later to keep their slim hopes alive.

Gielnik should have had her fourth of the game 10 minutes from the end after rounding the goalkeeper but Nanako Sasaki produced an incredible last-ditch tackle to prevent a certain goal.

Morrison popped up with an 82nd-minute header to restore Victory’s three-goal buffer.