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Reds top A-League, as City match gets ugly

NZN 8/04/2016 By Ben McKay

Adelaide United have one hand on the A-League minor premiership after a confrontational 2-0 victory over Melbourne City that teetered on the edge of violence.

Isaias scored with a fourth-minute free-kick and Bruce Djite followed up Thomas Sorensen's moment of madness to convert a penalty in first-half injury time in a deserved triumph for the Reds.

They could be crowned premiers should Brisbane fail to beat Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, but a halftime spat involving most players and even staff took the shine off Friday night's success.

Things heated up just before the break when experienced City gloveman Thomas Sorenson produced an AFL-style bump to knock ex-City midfielder Stefan Mauk into touch with the ball already out of play.

Referee Strebre Delovski pointed to the spot, from where Djite rolled the ball home to double Adelaide's advantage.

Mauk then gave the City bench an inflammatory 2-0 salute on his way back for the restart of play, and tempers frayed at halftime.

Isaias and Bruno Fornaroli shared tense words and soon it became physical, with firebrand forward Harry Novillo kicking out and Mauk at the centre of the tussle.

Novillo and Mauk were cautioned - among 10 players to receive yellows for the night - and assistant coach Joey Didiluca was sent to the stands after grabbing Mauk's throat.

City coach John van 't Schip said the brawl-inducing moment should never have happened.

"That was not a penalty because the ball was already behind ... I think the referee lost control after that," he said.

"We didn't create with our play. The spaces were limited, they had a lot of numbers back and we couldn't get through."

The result means Adelaide face an anxious 24-hour wait to learn if they will be crowned premiers.

Brisbane will snatch back the premiership by beating Victory at AAMI Park but United have at least locked in a top-two position, and a week off, giving them a fortnight to prepare for a semi-final.

"We have been playing well for a very long time," Reds coach Guillermo Amor said.

"The result is good for us ... now we wait tomorrow for the game.

"Our job is done."

Along with City, third-placed Western Sydney were knocked out of the minor premiership race by the result.

The Reds are a match away from a first grand final since 2009, but City are still as far away from silverware as ever.

Van 't Schip's side led the league as recently as two rounds ago but, with defeats to Perth and Adelaide, they have slipped down the table.

A return to Perth for an elimination final looms if the Glory beat Sydney FC and the Wanderers win on Sunday in Wellington.

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