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Jan 09, 2011   |  11:39PM AET

Merrick: Critical mistakes cost us

Merrick: Critical mistakes cost us

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has defended his side’s display in their 4-1 defeat against Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Sunday.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has defended his side’s display in their 4-1 defeat against Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Sunday.

United’s success was their first over the Victory since October 2007 and ends a run of 10 straight wins by Merrick-s men.

Victory-s tough afternoon was made even worse by the send-off of captain Kevin Muscat for a second bookable offence on 65 minutes and a groin injury suffered by fellow central defender Adrian Leijer.

Speaking after the match, Merrick labelled Muscat-s departure as one of two critical moments of a match he felt was closer than the scoreboard suggested.

“I thought the two biggest influences on the game were no doubt, conceding from a free-kick with the wall opening up and the second one was the send-off,” Merrick said.

“That’s very interesting because we can-t get a clear answer as to why Kevin was sent off, Kevin was told he elbowed the player in the face, and obviously the video footage shows he didn-t. We-re not sure why he was sent-off.”

“It made a big difference to the game, overall, even in the second-half when Brebs (Grant Brebner) moved into midfield, I thought we had some good play going forward several times.”

Brebner, who was one of Victory-s best, echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“I don’t think we played badly today, I think we copped stupid goals at stupid points in the game,” Brebner said.

“There was obviously a decision that rightly or wrongly didn’t go for us with the sending off. I think we certainly need to score goals.”

Apart from the 93rd minute goal to Mate Dugandzic which saw Victory avoid equalling their worst-ever Hyundai A-League defeat, Melbourne were unable to penetrate Adelaide’s defence.

In the absence of top marksmen Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson, Victory fielded Ricardinho and Danny Allsopp, both of whom are still on the comeback trail from injury.

While it showed with the pair’s performances, Merrick spoke positively about the comeback kid, who played the full 90 minutes and the Brazilian, who was substituted for Dugandzic on 73 minutes.

“I didn’t want to play Danny so much because he-s really struggling for match fitness, he-s a warrior and a trooper, he fought right to the end,” Merrick said.

“I thought he (Ricardinho) did quite well and kept possession well, I remember he was in the box early in the second-half when he should have pulled the trigger and he didn’t. At the moment he-s doesn’t look match sharp, but seems to be improving each game.”

“I think we had good spells several times, but if you don’t score you gain nothing from it. If you score it lifts everyone. We need goalscorers at the moment. Robbie and Archie are huge misses.”

In contrast, Adelaide United took their chances, with Hyundai A-League top-scorer Sergio Van Dijk hitting a brace, including a stunning 30-yard free-kick in the 56th minute.

Argentinian Marcos Flores and substitute Fabian Barbiero were Adelaide-s other scorers in a win that will go a long way to sealing Adelaide a top-two spot.

Victory remain fifth and next face Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Adelaide United 4 (Marcos Flores 12, Sergio Van Dijk 56, 78, Fabian Barbiero 74) defeated Melbourne Victory 1 (Mate Dugandzic 90+3) at AAMI Park. Crowd: 18,558.