Melbourne canters into Grand Final
  Sat 14th Feb 2009
2008/2009 Hyundai A-League - 2nd Leg - Major Semi-Final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United at Telstra Dome
Melbourne Victory 4 (Archie Thompson 10', Carlos Hernandez 24', Danny Allsopp 44', Tom Pondeljak 48') defeated Adelaide United 0
Source: Back of the Net
Melbourne Victory confirmed its place in the A-League Grand Final with a four-nil demolition of Adelaide United at Docklands Stadium before a bumper crowd on a warm Melbourne St Valentine's Day evening. The result on the night means won the two-legged semi-final six-nil on aggregate, and sends a clear message to any rivals that it will be a force to be reckoned with in the championship game at that same venue in a fortnight.

But it was Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar who will capture the headlines following his post-match comments in which he described his team's performance as a "disgrace" and "all about politics".

"(Tonight's performance) was a disgrace, an absolute disgrace," he said. "We owe the world an apology. A performance like that was a disgrace."

Vidmar went on to describe his club's toxic internal climate as the factor. "Politics, that's what I put it down to, there's too many people in this club with hidden agendas, that's the problem. That 4-0 result tonight was politics."

"Because of a piss-ant town, this club will never win anything, until you get rid of that crap."

"We want people out there who want to play football," he said. "Nothing else."

"I'll be taking charge of the playing group," said a visibly angry Vidmar.

"You've either got balls or you haven't," he said. "And we'll see who has them on Monday."

(Vidmar's full comments at the media conference can be seen here: Vidmar spits chips )

In contrast, Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick was beaming when making his after-match comments. "We knew we had the game won at half-time," he said. "But we felt it was very important to keep our standards up, and we didn't want to concede a goal."

"It was great to see not only that fantastic attacking play, but I thought the boys at the back did their utmost to make sure we didn't concede."

"I would say that was one of the best performances Melbourne Victory has ever put on."

Archie Thompson made Adelaide's deficit three in aggregate with Victory's first goal of the game after ten minutes. Man-of-the-Match Carlos Hernandez, made it four with the second just after the first-half's midway point. Whatever hopes had flickered in Adelaide hearts at kick-off had surely faded with that goal.

Danny Allsopp put the stadium into party mode a minute before the interval with the game's third after Hernandez had once again split a square Adelaide defence. It could have been even more by then, Tom Pondeljak having missed from a good position following another piece of Hernandez wizardry in combination with the hard-working Billy Celeski, as the overwhelmed Adelaide defence chased shadows.

Tm Pondeljak volleyed home three minutes after the re-start from Hernandez' cross which completely cut out any ability of Adelaide to intercede.

Adelaide finished the game with just ten on the park after Cassio had earnt his second caution of the game nine minutes from time, but the game's fate was determined well before his petulant walk of the pitch, during which he made an obscene gesture to the crowd which will surely draw the attention of the authorities in the next days, and into the tunnel.

Adelaide needed to win by two to get itself back into the game, and score three at least for a win. But it was Melbourne which began the stronger, and gave the visitors so little time in possession, it was not possible for Adelaide to build a platform. Indeed, it was Melbourne which took a firm hold on the game from the start.

Ten minutes after the start, Thompson put Melbourne ahead when Hernandez sent a perfectly-weighted through ball which split the Adelaide defence allowing Thompson a clear path on goal. Hernandez had, in turn, been provided the ball by a clever pass inside from Matthew Kemp on the left touch-line. Thompson's opener came just seconds after his striking partner Danny Allsopp had set him free and Thompson had skipped this way and that with the ball at his feet, mesmerising defender Robert Cornthwaite, but insufficiently so to allow Thompson to create a better shooting angle.

Hernandez was showing no signs of his inter-continental football journey, and was setting up Victory moves at will. It was fitting he himself benefited from his own endeavours with Victory's second of the night, and the goal which effectively confirmed Melbourne's Grand Final place.

The Costa Rican exchanged passes on the right with Tom Pondeljak, himself having a fine recent run of form, and allowing Hernandez to play the ball wide to the overlapping Nick Ward. Ward took the ball near the goal-line before cutting it back to Hernandez now free and inside the penalty-area. Hernandez took a touch to set up his shot, then sent a powerful drive wide of the hopelessly exposed Eugene Galekovic.

Galekovic had not put a foot wrong in either this or the first-leg, but had now been beaten four times by the rampant Victory strike-force. It was to be more before the end of the game, but none could be put down to any error of the league's goalkeeper of the year.

Adelaide might have scored on the half-hour when Cristiano met a well-directed cross from Scott Jamieson when Adelaide put together an effective move from a central position, but headed narrowly over. It was the visitors' only dangerous moment of the half, and testament to Melbourne's grip on the contest.

But all the initiative came from Melbourne, and directed mainly by Hernandez. The Central American import had looked sluggish early in the season, and - to be fair - would even now not claim to be Melbourne's fleetest of foot. But his touch, vision, and composure is currently unsurpassed in this league.

It was through Hernandez that Melbourne's next two goals were created, and within minutes of each other in game-time, although separated by the half-time interval.

Allsopp had benefited from a beautifully-weighted through-ball from Hernandez which had carved up Adelaide's back four and gave Allsopp unimpeded access to the net.

Then Hernandez received a pass from Pondeljak mid-pitch, making his way into the inside-right channel from where he chipped a cross into space at the far post only Pondeljak could attack. The well-travelled midfielder volleyed into the net from close-range.

Merrick withdrew Hernandez just before the hour, but the Costa Rican's game-winning influence was apparent to all even before then. There was little need to keep Hernandez on the pitch a minute longer.

Michael Theoklitos made two excellent saves, the first midway through the second half after a shot from the edge of the penalty-area by Cassio had been deflected at the six-yard line by Kevin Muscat required him to make a last-second reflex save to push the ball wide for a corner.

The second was equally as good. Adelaide substitute Rostyn Griffiths had been introduced at half-time for the ineffective Lucas Pantelis. Ten minutes from time he'd made a run from the half-way line and exchanged a pass to run clear along the right wing before crossing centrally to Cristiano. Cristiano's header was on target, and required a diving save by Theoklitos to deflect the ball around the post for a corner.

Hernadez' Costa Rican team-mate, Jose Luis Lopez, had a late chance to extend the margin of Melbourne's win, his shot from an acute angle on the end of a floated free-kick on the left from Matthew Kemp only just passing the outside of the far-post with Galekovic again exposed.

If the extent of Melbourne's win was a surprise, but the shock was to be provided by Vidmar's stunning after-match comments.

Report by Alan Clark

Melbourne Victory 4 (Archie Thompson 10', Carlos Hernandez 24', Danny Allsopp 44', Tom Pondeljak 48') defeated Adelaide United 0
Match Statistics:
Crowd: 34736

Melbourne Victory FC :
Player listing:
(4-4-2) 1 Michael Theoklitos (gk), 5 Sebastian Ryall, 2 Kevin Muscat (c), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 7 Matthew Kemp, 22 Nick Ward (11 Ney Fabiano [+79']), 14 Billy Celeski (17 Jose Luis Lopez [+76']), 16 Carlos Hernandez (8 Grant Brebner [+59']), 15 Tom Pondeljak, 10 Archie Thompson, 9 Daniel Allsopp

Substitutes not used: 19. Evan Berger, 20. Mitchell Langerak (rgk)

Coach: Ernie Merrick

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United FC :
Player listing:
(4-4-2) 20 Eugene Galekovic (gk), 16 Daniel Mullen, 2 Robert Cornthwaite, 19 Sasa Ognenovski, 14 Scott Jamieson, 3 Alemao (18 Fabian Barbiero [+56']), 7 Lucas Pantelis (28 Rostyn Griffiths [+46']), 24 Paul Reid, 6 Cassio Oliveira, 13 Travis Dodd (c), 10 Cristiano

Substitutes not used: 9 Paul Agostino, 27 Michael Marrone, 30 Mark Birighitti (rgk)

Coach: Aurelio Vidmar

Yellow Cards: Ognenovski [30], Griffiths [53], Cassio [62], Cassio [81], Dodd [88]
Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Matthew Breeze , 6 / 10
Pitch: 8 / 10
Game: 8 / 10

Best Players:
3. Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory)
2. Rody Vargas (Melbourne Victory)
1. Tom Pondeljak (Melbourne Victory)
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