Adelaide United have beaten bitter rivals Melbourne Victory 4-2 and ensured former cult hero Marcos Flores' return to Hindmarsh Stadium was one to forget in a hostile and thrilling encounter on Friday night in front of a record crowd of 14,115.

Flores was booed with every touch and could not influence proceedings as he watched his former side pile on four goals in a frenetic and action-packed opening 32 minutes.

Amid a series of rash challenges that saw six yellow cards brandished in the first half, Adelaide striker Evan Kostopoulos opened the scoring on two minutes with his first goal since September.

Andrew Nabbout levelled for the Victory immediately in reply to the Reds' opener before the hosts pulled away with three goals in 11 minutes.

Fabio Ferreira scored either side of Marcelo Carrusca's breathtaking curling finish with two classy goals - the first a thunderous strike and the second a neat header.

Melbourne responded after half-time when Marcos Rojas reduced the deficit, but it was all the visitors could produce in a static and rigid second half.

It took just seconds after kick-off for Flores to be welcomed back to Adelaide since leaving the club last year to play in China, when Dario Vidosic upended the Argentine.

Visibly fired up, Vidosic went into referee Chris Beath's book for another reckless tackle barely moments later after receiving his first warning.

Tension was reaching fever pitch inside the stadium as players continued to let their tempers flare, when Kostopoulos whipped the Hindmarsh crowd into a frenzy on two minutes.

The 22-year-old prodded in his first domestic score of the season before celebrating in front of the Victory's travelling supporters amid a barrage of bottles thrown in protest, after Ferreira had cut along the by-line and squared to his feet.

Replays suggested the Portuguese winger had failed to keep the ball from trickling out.

The goal stood but Adelaide was sent crashing back down to earth only three minutes later when Nabbout equalised.

Rojas sliced the ball in between three Reds defenders backtracking desperately to an unmarked Nabbout, who finished comfortably.

Flores could not escape the jeers when he was booked on 12 minutes for dissent after throwing the ball away.

With Flores and company visibly frustrated, Adelaide regained the lead via Ferreira in the 21st minute.

The former Chelsea reserve rifled a shot on the outside of his foot that drilled into the top corner after Carrusca had cleverly flicked the ball into his path following Cam Watson's long throw.

Carrusca added his name to the scoresheet when he capped off a scintillating passage of play that involved three team-mates and a series of first-time passes.

Kostopoulos held up a long ball just inside the area before passing back to Vidosic, who threaded to the feet of Djite.

Djite switched the ball out wide quickly to Carrusca, who curled a stunning first-time shot around opposition goalkeeper Nathan Coe into the side netting of the far corner.

The hosts refused to rest on their laurels as they battered the visitors in search of a fourth goal, and it arrived on 32 minutes when Ferreira doubled his account after glancing a low header into the net from Carrusca's in-swinging free-kick.

Rojas ensured the home side were in for a tense second half when he shifted and turned Adelaide's back four before firing under United gloveman Paul Izzo two minutes after the restart.

Bet365 Man of the Match: Marcelo Carrusca
Adelaide United 4 (Kostopoulos 2, Ferreira 21, 32, Carrusca 25)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Nabbout 5, Rojas 47)

Crowd: 14,115 @Hindmarsh Stadium