Reds break Victory stranglehold in style
A send-off and one of the season's best goals have helped Adelaide United break the A-League's worst head-to-head losing streak, thumping Melbourne Victory 4-1 to strengthen their hold on a top two berth.
Two second-half goals to the season's top-scorer, Sergio Van Dijk, one of them from a magnificent curling 25m free kick, sealed the drought-breaking win in a fiery clash at AAMI Park on Sunday.
It was the Reds' first win over Victory since October 2007, ending a run of 10 defeats, including the 2009 grand final.
Melbourne's loss was further soured by the send-off of captain Kevin Muscat, his two yellow cards among eight handed out in the second half.
But Adelaide counterpart Travis Dodd was relieved and proud to finally triumph in a clash with his club's arch-rivals.
"It is a bloody good feeling to come into a press conference (as a winner), I'll tell you that, after three years of losses," Dodd told reporters.
"It was a great team performance by the boys, there was a lot on the line for us, we're playing for a spot in the finals and as high as we can get, top two.
"We've got teams breathing down our neck, so we knew we had to get the three points." Third-placed Central Coast kept the pressure on, downing Wellington Phoenix 1-0 at Bluetongue Stadium to stay within four points of the second-placed Reds, with three games in hand.
A top two berth is vital, with every club to have won the A-League championship finishing the home and away season in first or second spot.
The Mariners have the chance to overtake Adelaide before the Reds play again, with an upcoming stretch of three games in eight days.
They host the Roar, on Wednesday night, then face Newcastle and Perth in the week to follow, all before Adelaide's next match, against North Queensland Fury, on January 21.
Brisbane Roar remain nine points clear at the top, despite managing only a 1-1 home draw with Perth Glory on Friday night.
Gold Coast United are still in fourth spot, but losing touch with Adelaide, after falling 2-0 to a rejuvenated Sydney FC at Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
Victory remain in fifth spot, despite their second straight poor loss.
Melbourne Heart, who had the weekend off, hold onto sixth spot, one point clear of the Phoenix, with the Jets now just two points behind Heart and Sydney six points off the finals pace.