Melbourne Victory have defeated fierce A-League Men rivals Adelaide United 1-0 with a disciplined performance at Coopers Stadium.
The visitors looked calm and composed for most of Saturday night after Marco Rojas found the back of the net after just six minutes.
The undermanned Reds pushed hard for an equaliser but the Victory were able to contain the home side.
For United, COVID sidelined Ryan Kitto, Bernardo and George Blackwood, while Lachie Barr and Zach Clough missed the clash through injury, joining an already incredibly long list.
Victory welcomed back Matthew Spiranovic, Nick D’Agostino and Ben Folami and although Adelaide made a bright start, it was the Victory who broke the deadlock early thanks to New Zealand international Rojas.
Francesco Margiotta picked up the ball in the attacking third and looped a ball to the back post for Jason Geria who had ghosted past Josh Cavallo before teeing up Rojas to blast home from close range.
The Reds’ best chance came just before the half hour with Craig Goodwin threading a pass through for Lachlan Brook, who took on Jason Davidson before firing a shot towards the near post, only for it to rebound off the upright.
Just before halftime Hiroshi Ibusuki got his head on the end of a whipped free kick from Goodwin, but his effort was straight at Ivan Kelava in the Victory goal.
After the interval Adelaide started positively but again it was Victory who looked more threatening.
On 57 minutes Jake Brimmer slipped Chris Ikonomidis through but the winger shot just wide with Reds keeper Steven Hall beaten.
A minute later and the visitors thought they had doubled their lead after another well-worked move ended up with Rojas putting the ball in the back of the net before the VAR ruled it out for offside.
Ibusuki continued to pose a threat from set pieces and crossed from out wide into the area, and just after the hour he almost equalised but his shot on the turn went just over.
Adelaide continued to attack and on 87 minutes a wide cross from Goodwin almost found substitute Yaya Dukuly at the back post but it was eventually cleared to safety by Tony Popovic’s side.