Adelaide United eased into the FFA Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 quarter-final victory over a game but exhausted Heidelberg United, with Reds striker Nikola Mileusnic notching a hat-trick in front of a crowd of almost 4000.
On an emotion-packed evening at Olympic Village, the Heidelberg faithful gathered to mourn their late board member Peter Loukakos, who died last weekend.
But there was to be no fairy tale finish for George Katsakis' side, which has found itself in the midst of a fixture pile-up even a well-resourced club from one of Europe's big leagues might struggle to deal with.
Heidelberg had lost agonisingly in the NPL Victoria grand final on Sunday evening to an extra-time winner by Bentleigh Greens, and backing up in such short order the part-timers were always going to be up against it against a fully professional A-League opposition.
And when Adelaide romped to a two-goal lead inside the first 11 minutes, the improbable quickly became the impossible for the NPL side.
The Bergers had proved their mettle against A-League opposition earlier in the competition when they beat Perth Glory 1-0 at the same venue, but this proved a step too far.
The Reds would have wanted an early goal to take the emotion out of the occasion and silence the crowd, and things could not have gone better for their new German coach Marco Kurz.
Ryan Kitto made a marauding run down the left and played a low ball across the penalty area, past a crowd of Heidelberg players, where it fell invitingly into the path of Mileusnic, who finished off from close range.
Tempers frayed straight after when Heidelberg's Jack Petrie clashed with the Reds midfielder Vince Lia, but the heat went out of the game even more in the 11th minute when Mileusnic struck again.
Heidelberg worked hard to gather their composure and the hosts manufactured a chance when Sean Ellis' cross was met by Kenny Athiu, but the lanky striker's header went wide, and Ellis then tested new Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo with a free kick that Izzo dived to save.
Heidelberg went close to pulling one back just after the restart with a header from a corner that flashed just over Adelaide wrapped it up with a third goal in the 65th minute by Mileusnic. But the Victorian side must shrug off their tiredness and disappointment and travel to West Australia at the weekend to play in the NPL Champions competition, against Bayswater City.
The story Adelaide cruise into cup semis with Mileusnic hat-trick first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.