Vidmar: Red card killed us

Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar believes the send-off of Brazilian striker Cristiano proved the difference between his side winning and losing the Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Melbourne on Saturday night.

Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar believes the send-off of Brazilian striker Cristiano proved the difference between his side winning and losing the Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Melbourne on Saturday night.

Adelaide, which lost the game 1-0, put up an incredibly brave performance after playing the final 80 minutes of the game with ten men after Cristiano was given a straight red card for a leading elbow on Melbourne defender Rody Vargas.

Vidmar said afterwards that given his team had pushed Melbourne so close, the loss of a player so early in the game was crucial.

"If we had 11 men on the park, we would have got a lot more out of it," he said.

"I certainly thought that we had the upper hand. Unfortunately when you go down to ten men, it changes your game plan, and made if very difficult, but I couldn't be any prouder of the players tonight," he said.

Vidmar's assessment of his team's effort was the polar opposite to the spray he gave his men two weeks ago. The Adelaide coach said each one of his players had carried out their job to the letter and with the passion required in such an important match.

"It was a fantastic effort. They really wore their hearts on their sleeves tonight, they did everyone proud, they did the state proud, they did themselves proud, everyone involved in the club," he said.

"They had a lot of passion and a lot of pride in that performance tonight. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't go you way, but I can't fault anyone tonight. It was a magnificent effort and we certainly deserved more."

Vidmar had talked up 'parking a bus' across Melbourne's goal during the week, but approached the game with an attacking philosophy, starting with a defensive three until Cristiano's send-off changed his plans. He thought the midfield battle was key to the match and felt Adelaide had done everything in its power to nullify the influence of Carlos Hernandez.

"We knew that the midfield was going to be the key in terms of winning the game and I thought our midfielders, in fact everyone, did exactly the job we had to do tonight," he said.

"There was a belief that we probably hadn't seen during the course of the year. I think everyone had the felling we could win and certainly even at half time, the buzz in the change room was fantastic. They knew they had to do the work and they went out and continued the work," he said.

"The focus was fantastic, the lead-up was fantastic. I'm just really gutted for the players."

Vidmar said he felt a tumultuous and ultimately unsuccessful finals series will yield lots of positives and that the club has made significant progress this season

"The new season will see some changes and you don't know what's going to happen next year, but certainly the achievements of the club to date have been fantastic. It's our second Grand Final, we've had the final of the Asian Champions League. We've beaten some super teams in the ACL through the course of the year," he said.

"It's been a tough season, but the mentality of the group is what's surprised me most. When the chips are down, they seem to find something extra."