Adelaide cruise past Sydney

Adelaide United defied a physical barrage and returned to the winner's circle with a clinical 3-1 victory over Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

Adelaide United defied a physical barrage and returned to the winner's circle with a clinical and at times ill-tempered 3-1 victory over Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

Coming off a winless fortnight on the road, the Reds bounced above the Sky Blues and the Central Coast Mariners into fourth spot on the A-League ladder with the triumph, set up by a quality Fabio Ferreira goal early in the piece and an opportunistic Sergio Cirio strike shortly after half-time.

Substitute Matt Thompson got one back for the visitors in the 75th minute but the Reds wouldn't be denied, Bruce Djite deservedly getting on the board and clinching the three points in style with just minutes remaining.

In an action-packed clash which comprised plentiful quality goals, some fiery physical clashes and even a streaker, the Sky Blues were comprehensively outplayed but, briefly, looked the better side early.

A horrid hacked back pass conceded from Adelaide's half gave the Sky Blues a surprise early corner which Sasa Ognenovski just failed to get his head on.

Alessandro Del Piero wrong-footed Tarek Elrich minutes later - forcing the United right back to nearly do the splits - and played in youngster Alec Urosevski, who pulled his shot wide.

Some desperate defensive brilliance from centre back Ognenovski prevented an Adelaide opportunity in the ninth minute, but four minutes later the Reds would not be denied.

On the back of a Sydney turnover, Carrusca laid a beautiful through ball with the outside of his foot to the classy Ferreira, who shimmied past the diving Ognenovski, switched direction and threaded it through for a quality goal from the right-hand side.

Attacking with intent and passing fruitfully along the carpet, the hosts emphatically stole the momentum with Sydney's immense frustration clearly evident.

Urosovski's poor 29th-minute studs-up challenge on Carrusca earned the young forward a yellow card and the Adelaide playmaker a sore left leg.

The incident instigated a scuffle between the two sides, which saw both Elrich and Ognenovski cop bookings with the contest delayed by some three minutes and in danger of imploding.

Richard Garcia was later carded by no-nonsense referee Kris Griffiths-Jones and lucky to remain in the match at all, conceding four ill-disciplined fouls.

Sydney were frazzled and unfocussed with the 1-0 half-time deficit flattering the visitors, with Frank Farina's men conceding 12 first-half fouls, three yellows and not able to muster a single shot on target.

Their fortunes did not change early in the second half with Adelaide going two to the good courtesy of Cirio.

Carrusca, running down the middle but unable to find adequate space, had his half-chance deflected, the ball bobbling into the unchecked path of Cirio, inside the box, who buried it into the bottom left corner.

Jeronimo Neumann, playing his 50th A-League game, was substituted on in the 62nd minute, while Italian legend Del Piero - on song early in the night but largely well held - was subbed out for Thompson four minutes later to rapturous applause.

The move by Sydney coach Frank Farina proved a masterstroke when Thompson found space after a sweet lay-off from Nikola Petkovic and rifled a goal from inside the area in the 75th minute.

With the visitors surging and desperate to equalise, the Reds were under some rare heat, their concentration tested by a semi-clad pitch invader who interrupted proceedings with 12 minutes left.

But Adelaide responded through the tireless Djite who, with a sweet turn, muscled a fine goal in the 88th minute and celebrated with flair to ice a fine win.

Adelaide United 3 (Ferreira 13, Cirio 55, Djite 88)

Sydney FC 1 (Thompson 74)

Crowd: 14,212.