Melbourne Victory 3 Adelaide United 0

Melbourne Victory score unlikely win over Adelaide United

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A 10-man Melbourne Victory side rode its luck, survived a first-half send-off and an opposition penalty and spent much of this game chasing shadows. But somehow Kevin Muscat's troops managed to snare a 3-0 win over Adelaide United, a result that anyone – particularly football purists – surveying the post-match possession statistics will struggle to comprehend.

Pragmatists will simply smile, and point to the only stat that really matters – the goals for and against tally. Fate had not been kind to the Victory on two trips to Sydney in the past fortnight, but fortune repaid Muscat's men in spades on this occasion.

The triumph moves Melbourne up to fourth spot on 11 points, four behind league leaders Brisbane and hard on the heels of Western Sydney and Sydney, who lie second and third. Adelaide coach Josep Gombau can, bizarrely, feel pleased with the way his side retained possession, kept the ball and dominated long periods of the game, particularly the second period of the first half. Yet he will be tearing his hair out at the way his team was ripped apart so often defensively by the Victory's fast and fluid counter attacking, which exposed his defenders lapses in concentration at critical points of the game. You can have the ball all night, but if you can't finish it doesn't matter.

It wouldn't be Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United if there wasn't a high degree of drama. Muscat has been a central figure in most of those incidents, and again found himself at the centre of controversy on the stroke of half-time when his captain, Adrian Leijer, was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card.

The rookie coach showed his famous hot temper was lurking close to the surface in exchanges with match officials as he desperately tried to effect a substitution so the Victory could defend the free kick Leijer had given away when he upended Sergio Cirio. The attack came to nothing, but Muscat was not done, giving his own striker James Troisi the hairdryer treatment from the technical area.