Cristiano gets his chance

Adelaide United striker Cristiano has gone from 'sulk' to star by improving his intensity at training.

Adelaide United striker Cristiano has gone from 'sulk' to star by improving his intensity at training.

The Brazilian, who's been a substitute player for most of the season, scored two goals in the Reds' upset victory over Sydney FC at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

His promotion to the starting 11 has been a long-awaited move but United coach Aurelio Vidmar said Cristiano hadn't deserved a spot in the side - until now.

"Up to a couple of weeks ago his training sessions have been very poor. Once we've had a little chat and he's absolutely clear of what he needs to do at training, his last two weeks have been brilliant," Vidmar said.

"He had to make a decision does he want to work or does he want to sulk."

"It wasn't an ultimatum it's whether you pull your finger out or you sit there and drag your tail between your legs and he decided to work and got the chance."

Fellow pinch-hitter Mathew Leckie also got his opportunity to start on the pitch and together the duo gave the Reds' a more potent looking attack.

They replaced Lloyd Owusu who's struggled as a lone striker for several weeks.

"We've been huffing and puffing for quite awhile and we haven't done anything so I don't think it was a risk," Vidmar said.

Leckie's role changed a little when Fabian Barbiero was sent off with a red card. But Vidmar was still impressed with the youngster's performance.

"We took a calculated risk, we sort of let Matty stay in a half-half position because he had to do a little bit of work defensively, a little bit centrally and a little bit on the right," Vidmar said.

"When we got the ball he was making some great movement out wide where he got a lot of his ball. I thought he had a fantastic night."

While Cristiano and Leckie received plenty of praise, Vidmar was less complimentary about Barbiero's decision to drag down Mark Bridge in the eighth minute of the team's Round 11clash.

"I'm disappointed because it shouldn't happen. He had another 10 or so metres before he was even going to reach the edge of the box and then he (Bridge) also had to beat Eugene (Galekovic)," he said.

"If it was the last couple of minutes of the game, yeah absolutely, but when you've still got 85-90 minutes left it's just poor form but he'll learn from that."