Melbourne Victory came back from the dead to snatch a two-all draw with Adelaide United at Telstra Dome on Saturday night before 22,466 spectators to keep its faint hopes of a finals berth alive.
Down two-nil to goals by Socceroo Paul Agostino with 70 minutes played, Victory won a penalty kick converted by skipper, Kevin Muscat and then Adelaide’s Richie Alagich headed a Carlos Hernandez free-kick into his own goal to hand the home team one point.
Once again Victory had to reshuffle its line-up thanks to injury and suspension. Striker Danny Allsopp was unable to take his place and Grant Brebner was on the bench. But skipper Kevin Muscat returned as sweeper behind Rodrigo Vargas with young Socceroo Sebastian Ryall and former Adelaide United defender Matthew Kemp at full back.
Daniel Vasilevski, Leigh Broxham, Adrian Caceres and exciting youngster Kaz Patafta were in midfield.
Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez partnered Thompson up front.
Victory almost scored in its first attack as Thompson set up Caceres whose shot was deflected for a corner kick, which came back to Thompson and his effort on the turn just missed the post.
Adelaide had several sharp attacking moves and took the lead with a strange and controversial goal in the 17th minute.
Lucas Pantelis found Dez Giraldi who looped a shot towards the top corner with keeper Theoklitos stranded.
When the ball came back off the woodwork, skipper and former Socceroo Paul Agostino, who was in an offside position, tapped it into the empty net.
But the goal stood because Agostino had been level with the last defender Kevin Muscat when the Giraldi shot looped up off Matt Kemp.
From then till half-time Victory took the game to Adelaide.
A series of sweeping attacks resulted a number of near things but no goal, the closest being Thompson’s shot which former Victory keeper Eugene Galekovic just managed to parry in the 40th minute.
Vasilevski and Caceres also had shots saved or blocked.
Adelaide went further ahead only four minutes after half-time when Nathan Burns headed the ball against the bar and Agostino buried the rebound.
Coach Ernie Merrick withdrew Patafta after an hour because the youngster was tiring, but the fans were not impressed chanting ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’.
Leandro took his place.
In 70 minutes, Tom Milardovic and Robert Cornthwaite combined to bring Archie Thompson down on the edge of the box resulting in a penalty.
Kevin Muscat thumped it into the roof of the net.
Though Victory kept pressing it seemed to have run out of time when Hernandez’s free kick was headed past Galekovic by the unfortunate Richie Alagich.
After the match Ernie Merrick said that the performance was good ‘but the result wasn’t what we were after’. ‘We have to get all three points from the Newcastle game.’
Aurelio Vidmar, the Adelaide coach, was inevitably disappointed. ‘We got into a great position, 2-0. We were really cruising in that second half. It only takes a couple of seconds for the game to change. Both goals came from silly mistakes’, he said.