Reds beat Victory, seal third spot

Adelaide United have secured third position on the Hyundai A-League ladder and will enter the finals with renewed confidence after defeating Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

Adelaide United have secured third position on the Hyundai A-League ladder and will enter the finals with renewed confidence after defeating Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

The Reds' timely victory against their arch rivals arrested a mini form slump which had seen Adelaide collect just one point from their previous three outings following their record-breaking 8-1 belting of North Queensland Fury three weeks ago.

Paul Reid created something out of nothing and set the home crowd alight in the sixth minute when he semi-connected with what seemed an innocuous bouncing ball from outside the 18-yard box to score the first goal.

Doing his best to break Adelaide hearts for the umpteenth time, Archie Thompson, who started on the pine after returning from injury, made it 1-apiece in the 65th minute, before United captain Travis Dodd headed a superb goal in the 78th minute to give the Reds the winning edge.

Reid, who was everywhere in the first half, got things rolling early when his fifth minute entry bounced three times, skimmed across the low-cut Adelaide Oval turf and, amazingly, eluded everyone as it was allowed to pass straight through about half a dozen players and into the back of the net.

Rightly, Melbourne keeper Michael Petkovic was livid with his defenders who conceded the soft goal.

Three minutes later Reid produced a carbon copy attempt from the same spot but this time Petkovic pouched it comfortably.

Adelaide fans were thinking 2-0 and were screaming for a penalty in the 10th minute when Dutch international Andy Slory was felled in a heavy body clash with Petkovic, which saw both players down for a while but referee Ryan Shepheard waved play on.

15 minutes in, Mathew Leckie's pass across the face of goal to Marcos Flores was just missed by the Argentinian to the right as Adelaide seemed to have plenty of numbers forward.

Long-time Adelaide tormentor Tom Pondeljak fired a free kick from straight in front, just outside the box in the 23rd minute, but it hooked to the left and was deflected high.

Moments later Victory midfielder Marvin Angulo gave the visitors a prime opportunity to equalise with a fine spin move and nice hit, but the Costa Rican's shot was desperately saved by Adelaide custodian Eugene Galekovic.

Melbourne tore a hole through United's defence 30 minutes in when Robbie Kruse cleverly back heeled to Mate Dugandzic who probably didn't do enough with his open shot which flew wide past Galekovic.

Sluggish early, Victory started putting enormous pressure on the Reds' defence and caused some sharp problems at the business end of the first half.

Adelaide regained some momentum in the dying moments before the break when Leckie's header from a corner 44 minutes in was close as was Reid's shot which went across the face and past a diving Petkovic on the cusp of the 45-minute mark, after receiving a little back heel from Iain Ramsay, United still with the game's only goal at half-time.

It was all United early in the second half.

Dodd sprayed an errant one wide in the 47th minute from a looping Leckie cross as Adelaide attempted to extend their advantage while Flores and Leckie peppered the goal to put Victory under pressure.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick rang in the changes in the 57th minute, substituting out Dugandzic and Pondeljak for star duo Thompson and Carlos Hernandez, both returning from injury.

The double-sub paid off when Thompson, who has a long history of giving South Australians nightmares, equalised in the 65th minute when he easily curled a Danny Allsopp pass to the top right of the net from close range as Dario Bodrusic failed to clear.

Thompson celebrated in trademark style by shadow boxing the flag on the outer side while crestfallen Bodrusic looked a broken man as he left the arena moments later.

The wheels looked like falling off completely for the hosts when Nigel Boogaard, who was otherwise brilliant, copped a yellow card from Shepheard immediately after Thompson's goal for back-chatting.

United regrouped, steadied and then had the crowd in raptures in the 78th minute when an unguarded Dodd nodded a superb long header over Petkovic's left shoulder from a slick Ramsay free kick, the Victory goalie with absolutely no chance.

More drama unfolded when Flores clashed with Diogo Ferreira in the 86th minute and was yellow carded as Victory refused to lie down, Carlos Hernandez's cracking 30m hit in the 88th minute deflected off Boogaard and crashing into the right cross bar.

Then at the start of injury time, Thompson, the A-League's all-time leading scorer, earned a free after he was brought down by Reid but the Melbourne magician was unable to conjure an eleventh-hour miracle as his free kick went well over Galekovic's head as Adelaide held on.

Adelaide United 2 (Reid 6, Dodd 78) Melbourne Victory 1 (Thompson 65) @ Adelaide Oval, 11/12/2011 Crowd: 21,083.