Mate makes it eight

Melbourne midfielder Mate Duganzdic celebrated his birthday with a brace as the Victory recorded their eighth-straight success over Adelaide United 3-1 at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne midfielder Mate Duganzdic celebrated his birthday with a brace as the Victory recorded their eighth-straight success over Adelaide United 3-1 at Etihad Stadium.

Dugandzic, 20 last Thursday, staged his own party in his first start for Melbourne, scoring goals in the 17th and 56th minutes, as Melbourne continued its hoodoo over the Reds and notched a fifth win in its past six matches to move temporarily one point clear of Gold Coast at the top of the Hyundai A-League table.

The visitors made their rivals sweat over the final 25 minutes when Adam Hughes pulled one back, but Adrian Leijer added the sealer in the final minute of the game. Adelaide, which has now only registered six points from their past 15 encounters with Melbourne, remains on 15 points, two games adrift of its rivals.

The first half was completely dominated by Melbourne, which controlled the middle of the park and created nearly all the attacking opportunities. As early as the fourth minute, Carlos Hernandez tested out Eugene Galekovic in goal while 12 minutes in, Archie Thompson headed just over from a corner.

Adelaide's opportunities were few and far between. Early on, Cristiano narrowly missed a dangerous cross from Alemao and Kristian Sarkies put an ambitious long effort well wide, while later in the half, Matthew Leckie failed to end his mazy run with a decent shot and then Lucas Pantelis fired over after some good build up play from Alemao.

Melbourne's first goal was the result of some industrious and determined play from attacking duo Thompson and Sutee Suksomkit. Thompson, lying on his back, fought hard to free up the ball and get it to the Thai international, who was making his Melbourne debut. He laid off a clever pass to Dugandzic, who hit the ball across Galekovic and into the net.

It would be a busy first 30 minutes for the Adelaide keeper, who was then called onto to prevent a low shot from Thompson, before Hernandez unleashed a thunderbolt of a free kick which prompted a top-drawer save.

Having gained more of a hold of the game late in the first half, Adelaide began the second 45 in a more positive manner with Iain Fyfe getting an early shot on target from a free kick.

But a defensive lapse allowed Melbourne to double its lead on 56 minutes. Matthew Kemp slid the ball forward and Hernandez caught the Adelaide defenders flat-footed and charged into open space. The Costa Rican had the composure to draw Galekovic to the ball and slide a pass for Dugandzic to finish with ease.

Adelaide needed to turn things around and Aurelio Vidmar sent on Lloyd Owusu and Cassio for Cristiano and Lucas Pantelis. One of Owusu's first actions of the game was to set up Adelaide's goal on 64 minutes. The Ghanaian leapt to meet Fyfe's cross and headed it back for Hughes to turn and smash it into the net.

The game had livened up and almost straight away, Galekovic intervened to flick Thompson's goal-bound effort away while up the other end the Reds spoilt an excellent chance for a corner. Seeking to put more attacking pressure on Melbourne, Vidmar replaced Fyfe with Travis Dodd.

Cassio and Sarkies both had chances to level the scores, but neither managed to breach Melbourne's determined defence. Up the other end, Thompson and substitute Nathan Elasi were both denied by Galekovic.

The result was secured when Leijer rose uncontested from a Hernandez corner and headed home his second goal of the season.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Dugandzic 17, 56, Leijer 89) Adelaide United 1 (Hughes 64) Crowd: 21,182 at Etihad Stadium