Adelaide United made a swift return to the winner's circle and made light work of the undermanned, bottom-placed Western Sydney Wanderers with a 2-0 triumph at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds completely dominated proceedings, with goals either side of half-time to Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferreira surrounded by a swag of legitimate near-misses.
The two-goal margin arguably flattered the winless Wanderers, whose bid to spring an upset was undone inside the first 18 minutes when captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley was red-carded, AFC champions Western Sydney entering next week's FIFA World Club Cup in atrocious form.
1-0 Carrusca (36')
Sergio Cirio infiltrated his way past Brendan Hamill on the left flank before centring wickedly to Carrusca, who ended a dominant but frustrating period for the hosts with a sweet touch into the net's bottom corner from eight yards.
2-0 Ferreira (55')
Carrusca's typically deft pass was collected by Ferriera, who nonchalantly worked his way past three hapless Wanderers defenders.
The Portuguese winger swooped his way into the box and mopped up his own deflection by crashing the ball into the top corner.
The two combatants waged a scrappy arm wrestle early before Topor-Stanley's send-off - with two yellow cards in as many minutes - short-changed the visitors and altered the whole temperature of the contest.
Cirio brought the vocal crowd to its feet in the 72nd minute when he came agonisingly close to slotting possibly the goal of the year, uncorking a rifle from range following a delightful chain of passes.
But his shot cracked the post before rebounding back to his own feet. The follow-up from Cirio wobbled wide, the Spanish marvel probably still stunned by what just happened.
OPTA DAYA KEY STAT
The first half stats told some telling stories. Adelaide racked up 26 shots on goal, eight on target, 13 corners and 43 crosses. The Wanderers numbers: zero in all four categories except one errant shot on goal.
The Reds' 786 passes (at almost 90 percent) to 210 further painted a picture of Adelaide dominance.
With a captain's knock required from the visitors' cream, skipper Topor-Stanley and vice-captain Mark Bridge provided the exact opposite, with three sloppy yellow cards in the space of seven minutes, including Topor-Stanley's dramatic send-off for an illegal handball after he was earlier booked for chopping Carrusca's ankles.
THE FINAL WORD
Other than perhaps winning by a greater margin, Adelaide did little wrong against the Wanderers and are well placed to consolidate their top-three spot and maintain their 12-month undefeated streak at home when they the host Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
Western Sydney's A-League season has been a nightmare but for now they will need to regroup and focus on Club World Cup duties, when they tackle Mexican powerhouse Cruz Azul in seven days time.
The victor will earn the esteemed privilege of taking on storied Real Madrid in the next round.
Adelaide United: Galekovic (c), Boogaard, McGowan, Isaias (Watson 82'), Cirio, Carrusca, Djite (Pablo Sanchez 62'), Goodwin, Jeggo, Elrich, Ferreira (Mabil 73')
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic, Topor-Sntaley (c), Hamill, Golec, Juric (Saba 71'), Rukavytsa, Spiranovic, Sotirio (Cole 45'), La Rocca, Bridge, Baccus (Haliti 80')
Scorers: Carrusca (36'), Ferreira (55')
Red cards: Topor-Stanley (17')
Yellow cards: Bridge (10'), Topor-Stanley (15, 17')
Conditions: 19°C, overcast