Cristiano stars in Reds' victory

A dominant second half by Brazilian recruit Cristiano has guided Adelaide United to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday.

A dominant second half by Brazilian recruit Cristiano has guided Adelaide United to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday.

United took the lead in the 15th minute thanks to a powerful Lucas Pantelis strike but it was Cristiano's two goals after the break that brought the crowd of 7832 to its feet.

In the end it was a meager return for the 27-year-old who had several opportunities to make it a hat-trick in the final half an hour of play.

Even more pleasing for the Reds was his ability to bring his team-mates into the game and combine with Paul Agostino just outside the box.

The result puts the South Australian side in second spot but they could slip to third if Sydney FC has a big win on Sunday.

It was a disappointing evening for the Phoenix who struggled in attack without the flu-ridden Shane Smeltz.

They are anchored on the bottom of the ladder after conceding eight goals in their first three matches.

Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar said he was pleased with his team's effort over the entire 90 minutes.

"I was a little bit surprised Wellington didn't come out firing after last week's result. But regardless of that, I thought whoever the opposition is out there, you've got to play to what resistance you get and we certainly started off the game extremely well and finished it off very well," he said.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said it was clearly his side's worst performance of the season.

"We just weren't competitive at all tonight," he said.

"We've got to be better than that, there were opportunities for players tonight and quite frankly didn't take them."

Adelaide dominated the first half and it didn't take long for the home side to open the scoring.

The Reds surged forward in numbers and an Alemao cross went past Agostino but into the path of an unattended Pantelis. The diminutive midfielder had some space and had no problem slamming the ball into the back of the net.

It was one of several promising plays by the home side which was given room to knock the ball around in the midfield and then pump the ball into the box.

Agostino was an imposing and creative presence in attack while Travis Dodd had a couple of pot shots from long range without success.

Meanwhile it was a poor start by the Phoenix which struggled to find touch while yellow cards to David Mulligan and Lei Lei Gao added to the visitors' woes.

But they did improve and in the minutes before the break they were more competitive. Troy Hearfield tried to boot an equalizer but his shot deflected off a United defender and was trapped by Eugene Galekovic.

Wellington carried that momentum into the second half and almost scored seconds after the break. A lapse in concentration by Adelaide's defenders allowed Leo Bertos to stream forward and shoot from directly in front.

However his kick stayed low and Galekovic dived to his right to deny the striker.

Their hard work was soon forgotten when Cristiano helped United take a two-nil lead in the 48th minute.

Positioned near the penalty box, the Brazilian initially set Paul Reid up for a shot on goal thanks to a deft pass. Reid's fierce attempt was stopped by but goalkeeper Glen Moss couldn't control the ball allowing Cristiano to swoop from close range.

Some long, dissecting passes through the midfield and a Pantelis cross set Cristiano up for his second goal at the 60th minute. There were three Adelaide players bearing down on the ball but it was Cristiano who sent the ball across the line from a metre out.

He then strived for a hat-trick and only had to beat the keeper about 10 minutes later. But he was too cute with execution and his soft attempt rolled left of the target.

With the game in their keeping, the Reds started to play with flair and continued to attack. However they were denied a fourth by an under siege Wellington defence.

Adelaide United 3 (Pantelis 15', Cristiano 48', 60') Wellington Phoenix 0 @ Hindmarsh Stadium. Crowd: 7832