Merrick praises Hernandez

Coach Ernie Merrick has lavished high praise on Carlos Hernandez after the attacking midfielder was the architect of Melbourne Victory's 3-0 rout of Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Coach Ernie Merrick has lavished high praise on Carlos Hernandez after the attacking midfielder was the architect of Melbourne Victory's 3-0 rout of Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Criticised at times this season because he had yet to open his goal-scoring account, last season's Johnny Warren Medal-winner hit top form in the rematch of last season's Hyundai A-League grand final, capping his fine effort with the second goal just after half-time.

Not only did he provide the assist for Rody Vargas' opener in the 19th minute, having already himself hit the crossbar, but Hernandez went on to set up three good chances for Ricardinho before ending a drought dating back to February, and Merrick didn't hold back in his assessment of the Costa Rican.

"I think he's one of the most outstanding attacking midfielders in that position that we've had in Australia," Merrick said of Hernandez.

"I coached in the old NSL and in this one (league) I think he's quite outstanding."

"He creates and he scores."

"There was one ball he received from our goalkeeper (Michael Petkovic) and it came down with snow on it, he controlled it, turned the player and knocked in a fantastic cross into the box."

"He's got such good all-round skills."

Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka put the latest disappointing performance in his team's season, which has reaped just four points from 10 starts, purely down to the efforts of Hernandez.

"I have to say that Carlos' performance was the key tonight, one of the main reasons they won," Lavicka said.

"Carlos did great, he was able to hold the ball and at the right time he was able to pass the ball through."

"He scored the goal, he had quick and hard-working players around him and they made trouble for us."

Merrick defended Hernandez' performances so far in 2010/11, insisting that his star player has played well in all but the previous week's 2-1 loss to Melbourne Heart but also pointed out that Hernandez looked a lot better in a team that clicked far better this week.

"I think we've been playing pretty well all the way along apart from last week's performance," Merrick added.

"But we certainly worked well in the front third tonight, we scored three (and) probably could have had another three."

"We had more players around him, (on) both flanks Tommy and Mate were getting forward, (we had) two strikers up front that were causing problems and it gave him (Hernandez) a whole range of passing options and he played some perfect passes tonight."

"He can't do that job without having a lot of support."