Melbourne City FC's regular season came to a disappointing end on Saturday night as Adelaide United punished John van't Schip's side 4-1 in a dramatic match at Coopers Stadium in Round 27.
Both sides finished with 10 men in a pulsating five-goal affair, after Kew Jaliens was sent off for City before Adelaide's Michael Marrone was given his marching orders, but it was the first 33 minutes that proved the most decisive.
A dominant first half from Adelaide saw Josep Gombau's team race to a 3-0 lead just after the half hour mark with Miguel Palanca and Pablo Sanchez - who netted two goals in the space of five minutes - and Tarek Elrich combining to inflict the irreversible damage.
It was a more even affair in the second stanza, but the Reds extended its lead when Craig Goodwin earned a penalty, which Cameron Watson slotted home to stretch the score line to 4-0, before Aaron Mooy was awarded a penalty for City and scored a consolation from the spot.
With both sides forced to accommodate for the loss of key defenders to dismissals, further chances were created to alter the score line but it remained 4-1 at the final whistle.
While City were assured of a place in the Finals Series prior to kick-off and can start to prepare for ahead of its Elimination final next weekend, Melbourne will learn of its opponent following the outcome of Sunday's clash between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix.
A Phoenix draw or win will see Melbourne City face Adelaide for a second week running, while a Sydney FC win will mean City will have to travel to New Zealand for the knockout clash.
City were on the back foot early with Bruce Kamau causing trouble down the visitor's left flank, and the home side earned a string of corners in the first 10 minutes. Those caused a couple of nervy moments as 'keeper Tando Velaphi punched one clear before Jason Hoffman headed off the line.
With City on the back foot, Adelaide took advantage and an industrious run from Pablo Sanchez through the midfield in the 19th minute led to the opener. Sanchez threaded Palanca through on goal and the striker turned the ball past Velaphi from an acute angle.
Five minutes later and Sanchez netted Adelaide's second again following neat work from Cirio.
Cirio found himself in space from a long ball, cutting in from the left and unleashing a shot on target, which Velaphi could only deflect into Miguel Palanca's path and the Spaniard fired home from the top of the box.
The match was all but over when Elrich went for a mazy run from within his own half, beating four City defenders and slotting past Velaphi to give Adelaide a comfortable and deservered 3-0 lead.
City had two great chances to pull a goal back before the break as Jonatan Germano skied the rebound from Harry Novillo's parried shot, before Mooy skewed an effort high and wide.
Koren and Kamau proved the most dangerous in the opening stages of the second stanza, but Adelaide extended its lead to 4-0 when Germano tripped Goodwin in the box and Cameron Watson scored from the penalty spot, albeit on the second attempt.
In a pulsating and action-packed second half, Mooy pulled a goal back for City, before further disaster struck as Kew Jaliens was given his marching orders for awkwardly bringing down Goodwin in a dangerous area, with the Dutch defender denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Both sides played the final 20 minutes with 10 men as Marrone was then dismissed for a tackle on Erik Paartalu.
Hyundai A-League Round 27
Saturday 25 April 2015
Adelaide United 4 (Miguel Palanca 19’, Pablo Sanchez 24’, Tarek Elrich 33’, Cameron Watson [PEN] 59’)
Melbourne City FC 1 (Aaron Mooy [PEN] 65’)
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Referee: Kris GRIFFITHS-JONES
Adelaide United: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (C), 2. Michael MARRONE, 4. Dylan MCGOWAN, 5. Osama MALIK (15. Benjamin WARLAND 69’), 7. Pablo SANCHEZ, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 11. Bruce DJITE (14. Cameron WATSON 56’), 16. Craig GOODWIN, 19. Miguel PALANCA (13. Dylan SMITH 77’), 21. Tarek ELRICH, 24. Bruce KAMAU
Substitutes not used: 20. Paul IZZO (GK), 12. Mark OCHIENG
Yellow cards: Palanca 29’, McGowan 35’, Malik 60’
Red cards: Marrone 70’
Melbourne City FC: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 5. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO (28. Nicholas SYMEOY 69’), 10. Robert KOREN, 13. Jonatan GERMANO (21. Stefan MAUK 65’), 16. Josh KENNEDY (15. David WILLIAMS 60’), 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27. Kew JALIENS
Substitutes not used: 1. Andrew REDMAYE (GK), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA
Yellow cards: Hoffman 77’
Red cards: Jaliens 66’