Victory draws first blood

Melbourne has taken command of the Major Semi-Final against Adelaide with goals from Carlos Hernandez and Danny Allsopp giving the Victory a precious 2-0 away win in the first leg at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Melbourne has taken command of the Major Semi-Final against Adelaide with goals from Carlos Hernandez and Danny Allsopp giving the Victory a precious 2-0 away win in the first leg at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Played in an atmosphere befitting a finals clash between the top two teams, Melbourne dominated the first half after Hernandez's powerful shot had given it the lead on 13 minutes.

The Victory then withstood a determined Adelaide challenge in the second half before Allsopp completed the win with what could prove a crucial second goal in the 88th minute. It means Adelaide must win by two goals at Telstra Dome next Saturday to have any hope of hosting the Grand Final.

It was a game which started with real intensity and after Melbourne squandered a couple of half chances, Adelaide returned the favour with a Paul Reid long throw unmet by Paul Agostino before Lucas Pantelis' barnstorming run was stopped by Matthew Kemp just as the Adelaide midfielder was about to pull the trigger.

The goal came on 13 minutes against the run of play but was vintage counter-attacking Melbourne. Billy Celeski cleared to Tom Pondeljak who delivered a brilliant long pass to a running Hernandez. The Costa Rican's shot beat Eugene Galekovic, hit the bar and then bounced over the line. Danny Allsopp then followed up by heading the ball in and was initially credited with the goal until the referees discussed it at half-time.

There were plenty more attacking openings. Kristian Sarkies forced Michael Theoklitos to save with his legs, while Galekovic barely had to move to stop shots from Hernandez and Archie Thompson.

Scott Jamieson and Sasa Ognenovski were both booked inside the half hour, as Melbourne grew dominant late in the half. Hernandez could realistically have had a hat-trick by half-time after almost chipping Galekovic and then forcing a fine one-handed save from the busy Adelaide stopper soon after.

Thompson was desperately unlucky not to have one of his own on 37 minutes as he hit both posts with the one shot with the ball rolling along the line in between.

Aurelio Vidmar reacted by replacing Sarkies with Alemao, but it did little to stem the tide of Melbourne chances. Nick Ward missed a sitter soon after, as the Victory went to the break with their tails up, but only one goal to show for their 10 shots for the half.

Adelaide made a further change at half-time, bringing on Daniel Mullen for Michael Valkanis and the more attacking formation looked to be working early in the second half.

Ward and Muscat were booked for fouling Jamieson under pressure as the Reds pressed forward with purpose and Ward departed soon after for a more defensively-minded Grant Brebner.

Hernandez looked Melbourne's most potent attacking option and just after the hour his powerful shot forced a fumble from Galekovic which Allsopp almost latched onto.

Adelaide's chances were fleeting, with Travis Dodd going over with a quickfire effort and then failing to convert Jamieson's stirring run down the right. Vidmar then sent Cristiano on for Agostino in a bid to find an equaliser.

But Adelaide could not get a serious threat on Michael Theoklitos' goal in a tense final 15 minutes despite dominating possession. Cristiano came closest, but his header went well over.

The second goal came unexpectedly, again via the long ball with Allsopp beating Ognenovski one on one and then hammering the shot low and hard past Galekovic.

Adelaide United 0 Melbourne Victory 2 (Hernandez 13. Allsopp 88) Crowd: 14,119 at Hindmarsh Stadium