Victory had plans for Carlos

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick said he never had any doubts his Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez would be capable of stepping straight off a plane and playing a key role in the Victory's progression to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick said he never had any doubts his Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez would be capable of stepping straight off a plane and playing a key role in the Victory's progression to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final on Saturday night.

Hernandez scored one goal and set up three others as Melbourne cruised to a 4-0 win on the night and a 6-0 win on aggregate in the major semi-final against a dispirited Adelaide to ensure it hosts its second Hyundai A-League grand final at Telstra Dome in three seasons.

His performance was even more remarkable considering it came just 54 hours after he represented Costa Rica in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras a world away in San Jose on Wednesday night (Thursday afternoon Australian time).

And Hernandez arrived back in Melbourne less than 12 hours before kick-off on Saturday night after a 35-hour flight home.

"We had a strategy in place to get him up for the game," Merrick revealed on Saturday night after Melbourne's emphatic win.

"Our physio met him as soon as he arrived at his home and he got treatment and we had both bases covered whether he was going to start on the bench or whether he was going to start in the first 11."

"But the bonus was he only played 37 minutes (as a second-half substitute) for Costa Rica and he managed to sleep for 10 hours on the flight so he was pretty fresh."

While Hernandez was simply outstanding in probably the best individual performance produced by a Melbourne player since Fred and Archie Thompson combined for five goals in Melbourne's 6-0 grand final rout of Adelaide two years ago, Merrick described Saturday night's semi-final win as the complete team performance.

"Carlos was one of 15 players who was quite outstanding for Melbourne Victory today," Merrick said.

"That was one of the best performances Melbourne Victory has ever put on and even in the grand final (win two years ago) we played against 10 players (for most of the game) but tonight we played against 11 players for most of the game (until Cassio was sent off with 10 minutes left)."

"It's a standard we have set and in the last couple of weeks we just seem to have got better and better."

While Merrick was reluctant to heap too much praise on Hernandez, Victory skipper Kevin Muscat had no such hesitations describing the Costa Rican's devastating performance as full of character.

"He was determined to play the game and that is how far his character has come," Merrick said of Hernandez.

"He thinks like an Australian now, he is determined and his attitude was superb."

"I spoke to him before the game and said you could kill this tie off in 45 minutes and it only took him 25 minutes (by which time he had set up one goal and scored another) so he has done really well."