Ricardinho gets into groove

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is hopeful Ricardinho's instant-hero status can spur the Brazilian on to greater heights for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is hopeful Ricardinho's instant-hero status can spur the Brazilian on to greater heights for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season.

The 27-year-old earned Victory a third straight win and the tag of ''supersub'' as his 90th minute goal gave the club a memorable 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park.

It proved a timely strike in more ways than one, ending a three-month goal drought for the former Marilia marksman, but also moving Victory up to fifth on the ladder, ahead of crosstown rivals Melbourne Heart.

Ricardinho's contribution during the 14-minute cameo delighted Merrick.

"I thought it was the best spell he's played for us," Merrick said.

"(Coming off the bench) made it easier for him because he didn't have to defend, it was about goals, I told him to push up and get into goalscoring positions and he did it well."

Signed as the club's marquee international player in August, Ricardinho has had something of a rollercoaster campaign, scoring on his full debut against the Brisbane Roar, before going through a rough patch in front of goal and then spending the best part of six weeks on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

The Newcastle goal was just his second in 11 Victory appearances, but may prove the catalyst for even richer dividends thanks to Melbourne's patient approach with the No.9.

Certainly Merrick hopes Ricardinho's stocks will continue to rise.

"We're all ... the coaches and support staff are patient, we work on players and don't give up easily," Merrick said.

"It's not an easy team or environment to come into, there's high expectations here and there's no doubt he was feeling tough that he wasn't scoring goals."

"To his credit, he's knuckled down at training, does extra sessions and when he came on, he made a difference."

With Archie Thompson sidelined through a hamstring injury and leading hitman Robbie Kruse tipped to make the Socceroos' Asian Cup squad, Ricardinho's return to goal-scoring form can only be a boost for a Victory side eyeing off a hectic January