Melbourne Victory have survived a red card to Adrian Leijer just before half-time and a second-half penalty to notch a remarkable 3-0 win over Adelaide United.
Melbourne Victory have survived a red card to Adrian Leijer just before half-time and a second-half penalty to Adelaide United to notch a remarkable 3-0 win over the Reds at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The first half ended in farcical fashion as Leijer was sent off with Melbourne leading 1-0, before coach Kevin Muscat frantically hauled off James Troisi - the Victory's leading goal-scorer - to bring on an extra defender in Nick Ansell who was yellow-carded for entering the field of play too early.
But despite playing the second half with one less player and conceding a penalty, the hosts claimed just their second win in 10 matches against Adelaide to move into fourth spot on the Hyundai A-League table with Kosta Barbarouses, Archie Thompson and Mitch Nichols scoring the goals.
The game looked set for a significantly different conclusion just after the hour mark, as Adelaide were awarded a penalty.
Jeronimo Neumann stole possession off Melbourne defender Pablo Contreras and then appeared to go down under minimal contact from the Chilean, although referee Ben Williams did not hesitate in pointing to the spot.
But instead of equalising, the Reds saw Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe stop a rather limp spot-kick from Sergio Cirio.
Coe's save sparked the home crowd into life and the Victory responded, launching an immediate attack, which eventually saw Barbarouses cut the ball back to Nichols and the midfielder's mishit shot was poked into the net by Thompson.
With 22 minutes remaining, Melbourne suddenly led 2-0 and in the 76th minute Nichols wrapped up the three points for Melbourne as he ran onto a long pass by Coe, bundled the ball past Adelaide's onrushing goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and then slotted home.
The win ended Melbourne's two-game losing skid, while Muscat's team moved to 11 points from seven rounds, four adrift of league leaders Brisbane.
The Victory took the lead in the 14th minute when they won possession in their forward half and a quick passing combination between Nichols and Thompson released Troisi, who burst away down the left channel before squaring the ball for Barbarouses to tap in his first goal wearing the Big V.
Adelaide came into the game as first half wore on but Melbourne looked set to enter the break with a deserved 1-0 lead until Leijer got himself sent off.
Victory's ex-captain significantly reduced his team's advantage in first-half stoppage time as he unnecessarily earned a second yellow card for pushing over Cirio after the Spaniard had beaten him on the left sideline.
Before this season, Melbourne's former head coach Ange Postecoglou had seemingly stripped Leijer of the captaincy in an effort to stop the 27-year-old from the type of needless aggression that saw him first booked in the 35th minute for a diving tackle on Marcelo Carrusca.
But although Adelaide forced the home side back for much of the second half, the visitors were unable to test Coe enough and the Victory struck twice on the counterattack to triumph over their arch-rivals.
The loss leaves the Reds winless since round one, while Josep Gombau's tiki-taka revolution at Adelaide remains very unconvincing.
Melbourne Victory 3 (Barbarouses 14, Thompson 68, Nichols 76) Adelaide United 0 Crowd: 20,064 @ Etihad Stadium