Nathan Burns wrote his name into Wellington Phoenix folklore on Sunday when he became the first player in the club’s seven-year history to net a hat-trick.
Not only did his three goals help the Phoenix demolish Melbourne City 5-1, they took his season tally to seven and put him on top of the Golden Boot standings.
A smiling Burns left Westpac Stadium with the match ball in his bag and the distinct possibility of being called up to the Socceroos for next month’s Asian Cup.
Typically, the livewire striker wasn’t getting carried away with the latter prospect, but surely Socceroos coach Ange Posticoglu, still searching for his first win as national coach, can’t ignore his rich vein of form.
“You never know in football,” Burns said.
“Sometimes you expect to get selected and it doesn’t happen then at other times you don’t think it will happen and it does.
“I just have to focus on playing for the Phoenix and see what happens.
“We got a good result tonight but we have to keep it going.”
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was delighted to see his team hit form after an unlucky road trip to Adelaide and Perth.
There were some jittery moments in the opening stanzas but the home side soon settled down and began playing exciting, attacking football.
“We weren’t playing through (Michael) McGlinchey enough early on,” Merrick said.
“Once we did we began to open them up. Mikey was outstanding and provided the service for Nathan, Roly and Roy to score the goals.
“We got better and better as the game went on and showed the quality of football we are capable of playing.
“I said final third football was an area we had to improve on and we did that tonight.”
While Burns and McGlinchey were outstanding, Fijian striker Roy Krishna is quickly becoming a fan favourite with his speed and trickery and he capped off a top-class display with a superbly taken 50th minute goal that put his team 4-0 up,
“Roy has been an amateur all his career till joining the Phoenix and it takes time for a player to adjust to the demands and rigours of professional football,” Merrick said.
“I thought he was sensational tonight but we have been seeing that from him in training and I’m looking forward to seeing it on a regular basis.”
Burns opened the scoring in the 38th minute when he latched on to a wayward back pass and rounded the goalkeeper to knock the ball into an empty net.
Roly Bonevacia added the second goal two minutes later and Burns made it 3-0 two minutes into the second spell.
Krishna chimed in with a superbly taken goal three minutes later before David Williams pulled a goal back for City on 68 minutes from the penalty spot.
Burns completed his hat-trick in the 85th minute from the penalty spot, having to take the kick twice after Bonevacia encroached on his first successful attempt.
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tom Doyle (Michael Boxall 82m), Albert Riera, Alex Rodriguez, Roly Bonevacia (Matt Ridenton 82m), Michael McGlinchey, Nathan Burns, Roy Krishna (Kenny Cunningham 75m).