Hernandez leads Victory to huge win

Carlos Hernandez has powered Melbourne into home Grand Final in the most emphatic of fashion as the Victory hammered Adelaide United 4-0 in the second leg of the Major Semi Final at Telstra Dome to win through 6-0 on aggregate.

Carlos Hernandez has powered Melbourne into home Grand Final in the most emphatic of fashion as the Victory hammered Adelaide United 4-0 in the second leg of the Major Semi Final at Telstra Dome to win through 6-0 on aggregate.

The Costa Rican scored one goal and set-up three others and had Melbourne, which led 2-0 from the first leg, all but in the decider after 47 minutes. It was all the work the Premiers had to do, cruising to a second Grand Final in three years as Adelaide finished the game with ten men after Cassio was sent off with ten minutes left.

Hernandez, who played for his country in San Jose just 54 hours before this match kicked off, set up Archie Thompson for the first on ten minutes, made his own luck for the second on 24 minutes and then provided Danny Allsopp for the third a minute from the break.

On 47 minutes, he provided the deftest of crosses to set-up Tom Pondeljak for a fourth and then departed on 58 minutes after his best hour's work in his two years with the club.

The result means Adelaide, which has lost five times to Melbourne this season, now hosts Queensland next week in the Preliminary Final, with the winner to travel to Telstra Dome for the Grand Final on February 28.

Melbourne would appear to be overwhelming favourite to add to its Championship title of 2006/07 after such an emphatic performance. The Victory have now won seven of their past eight games and seven straight at home.

Adelaide made five changes in the starting line-up but Melbourne delivered on its promise of attacking football, laying siege to the visitors' goal for much of the first half.

The first sign that Adelaide was struggling to contain the Victory defence came on nine minutes when Thompson beat two defenders, but couldn't squeeze his shot past Eugene Galekovic on the angle.

A minute later Melbourne had the lead. The Reds lost the ball in a dangerous position, and Hernandez threaded a ball to Thompson, who beat the offside trap. Galekovic got his hand to the shot but it only slowed its progress into the net

Hernandez was in awesome form and combined neatly with Pondeljak and then Nick Ward, to put himself into space in the box on 24 minutes. He hit the ball sweetly into the back of the net and the tie was all but over with Melbourne holding a four-goal advantage.

Adelaide only had a handful of half chances in the first half. Robert Cornthwaite headed wide from a set piece, while Cristiano and Cassio both sent shots well over the bar. Travis Dodd then had a goal-bound shot blocked by Rody Vargas. To add to the Reds' horror start, Sasa Ognenovski went into the book while Paul Reid copped a ball in the face.

They also had the indignity of a 3-0 deficit at the break when Hernandez, who had only arrived back in the country some 12 hours before kick-off, put Allsopp through one-on-one with Galekovic in the 45th minute and the big striker netted number 13 of the season.

Hernandez did not let up in the second half, producing a magnificent cross two minutes in to find Pondeljak alone at the far post. The experienced midfielder volleyed it in for one of the goals of the season.

Ward almost piled on more misery soon after, with Galekovic forced to produce a fine save, while the Reds' attempts to pull back the margin were constantly-thwarted by a stubborn Melbourne defence and the athleticism of Michael Theoklitos.

Hernandez's departure was met with a standing ovation, with Grant Brebner replacing him. Cassio was booked a second time, and given his marching orders, on 80 minutes, while Travis Dodd and Rostyn Griffiths also went in Matthew Breeze's book.

Melbourne was content to run out the clock and Theoklitos ensured the Victory defence remained unbreached for the fourth-straight match.

Melbourne Victory 4 (Thompson 10, Hernandez 24, Allsopp 44, Pondeljak 47) Adelaide United 0 Crowd: 34,736 at Telstra Dome