Adelaide United lick their wounds

Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau is grateful for his side's upcoming nine-day break after coming away with a bruising 3-1 win over Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

The long turnaround gives the Reds ample time to nurse several sore spots ahead of next Sunday's encounter with Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

After in-form Osama Malik (groin) pulled out before the Sky Blues clash, fellow centre back Jon McKain sustained a hip flexor injury during the game and was substituted out just before half-time.

Tarek Elrich and Sergio Cirio finished the spiteful contest worse for wear, while Marcelo Carrusca was repeatedly knocked around by a Sydney outfit which conceded 13 first-half fouls and 19 overall to go with five yellow cards in a physical, ill-tempered display.

"We are lucky that we play on Sunday," Gombau said.

"We have nine days which is the most time you can have in A-League.

"With these nine days I hope and wish we can recover some players and be ready to play next week in NZ."

While the extended break couldn't have come at a better time for Adelaide, Gombau conceded he is 'worried' at the mounting injury toll.

"Today was a difficult day for us because a couple of central defenders both had injuries," Gombau said, referring to Malik and McKain.

"Yesterday (Thursday), Malik said after training that he felt he cannot play.

"Honestly I am worried.

"At the moment we have Cirio feeling a little bit (sore) in his muscle, McKain, Malik, (Michael) Zullo and Elrich finished the game but he is with problems."

Some banged-up bodies couldn't mask United's delight following a clinical and comprehensive triumph which saw them leapfrog Sydney and the Central Coast Mariners into fourth spot on the A-League table.

Carrusca set up goals to Fabio Ferreira and Cirio before Bruce Djite iced it in the 88th minute with a fine strike after the Blues threatened to conjure a last-ditch draw when experienced substitute Matt Thompson struck in the 75th.

Following a winless fortnight on the road against title contenders Brisbane Roar and the Western Sydney Wanderers, Gombau refused to downplay the significance of Friday’s bounce-back win at the Reds’ Hindmarsh fortress.

"It was so important to get the three points," Gombau said.

"Before today we had four (mini) finals (left); now we have three.

"To win this game at home brings us confidence ... you can go and play away (feeling)