Melbourne take A-League title

Melbourne Victory beat fierce rivals Adelaide United 1-0 in a stormy Australian A-League grand final featuring two red cards. Tom Pondeljak broke the deadlock with a long-range volley in the 60th minute which eluded Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic for Melbourne's second title in four years of the A-League before 53,000 fans.

It was a heated season decider with two players sent off and six yellow cards, with the match boiling over several times in pushing and shoving melees. Adelaide lost their Brazilian striker Cristiano in the tenth minute, after he left defender Rodrigo Vargas rolling on the ground with blood seeping from a gashed ear after leading with his elbow in challenging for a high ball.

After consultation with one of the assistant referees, referee Matthew Breeze pulled out the red card, leaving Adelaide a man down for the remainder of the grand final. It was the second time Adelaide had had a player sent off in an A-League grand final, with Ross Aloisi shown red in the 2007 decider, which was won 6-0 by Melbourne.

But Adelaide showed far more commitment than in their losing major semi-final when they went down 6-0 on aggregate to Melbourne a fortnight ago and, despite the sending-off, the Reds took the game to the hot favourites after halftime. Scott Jamieson and Travis Dodd had scoring chances, only to be denied by goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos, before man-of-the-match Pondeljak scored the winning goal.

His drive from the right appeared to go through Jonas Salley's legs and beat the unsighted Galekovic into the Adelaide net. But the match took another dramatic turn when Melbourne striker Daniel Allsopp was red-carded for what appeared to be a head butt on defender Robert Cornthwaite in a goalmouth melee in the 65th minute.

Melbourne stretched their season dominance over Adelaide to six wins and overall have lost only twice in ten home games. Adelaide, who became Australia's first team to play in the final of the AFC Champions League last November, have now lost both A-League grand finals they have contested, both times to Melbourne.