Melbourne Victory 1 Adelaide United 1
Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United played out a one-all draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night and though there was some fairly teethy tackling in the early stages and one near brawl it was not the most exciting game between these doughty rivals.
Harry Kewell returned to the starting line-up for Victory after missing the game against Los Angeles Galaxy.
Adelaide had three changes. Sergio van Dijk returned along with Nigel Boogaard and Dario Vidosic, with the last of these starting on the bench.
Kewell had two clear chances, one in the first minute and one in the last minute of the first half.
Archie Thompson put him through for the first but Kewell shot straight at Eugene Galekovic.
The second was a better effort as he chipped the keeper, only for Galekovic to arch backwards and tip the ball round the post for a fruitless corner kick.
In between Victory had more of the play but could not break down the Adelaide defence, while Adelaide’s best opening came after a passing movement involving van Dijk, Iain Ramsay, Bruce Djite and Fabian Barbiero, whose shot flew over the bar.
In the 32nd minute Kewell turned Zenon Caravella who cannoned into the Socceroo’s back and a free-for-all developed, but was quickly squashed.
Barbiero was booked a minute later for a late tackle and that seemed to calm things down, but there were no goals before half-time.
Both teams made changes at the interval with Grant Brebner coming on for Billy Celevski, who had looked lively early on but injured his leg and was removed as a precaution.
Adelaide took off Osama Malik for Vidosic and the visitors looked more threatening after the break.
Bruce Djite and Matthew Foschini had a great head-to-head contest on the Victory right flank, and a couple of times the central defenders had to double team Djite to make sure he could not get a shot or a dangerous cross away.
The game was meandering towards a draw but Victory broke through in the 59th minute.
Fabio got clear down the left and from just inside the touchline fired over a high cross which gave Archie Thompson a clear header on goal and the Socceroo striker put it home.
Victory had some good chances to add to its lead through Kewell, Thompson and skipper Adrian Leijer who crashed into Galekovic just as he got his head to a cross.
The keeper came out best again.
As often happens when a team does not stretch its lead it is vulnerable to the breakaway move.
Adelaide got an equaliser in the 82nd minute in an attack down the right and Sergio van Dyck slipped a pass to Fabian Barbiero who placed the ball neatly inside Ante Covic’s left hand post.
It was a poor game, but Victory could have won it at the death as substitute Marco Rojas backheeled to Kewell on the touchline and he drove a low ball right across the goal line.
Grant Brebner was the nearest Victory player but he just could not get a touch on the ball to direct into the empty net.
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Sunday, 10 December
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Local Kick Off: 7:45pm
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referees: Luke Brennan and Hakan Anaz
Fourth Official: Alex Azcurra
21. Ante Covic, 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 4. Petar Franjic, 6. Leigh Broxham, 10. Archie Thompson, 13. Diogo Ferreira (11. Marco Rojas 76’), 14. Billy Celeski (8 Grant Brebner 46’), 16.Carlos Hernandez, 22. Harry Kewell, 23. Adrian Leijer.
Unused substitutes: 20. Lawrence Thomas, 18. Danny Allsopp
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
1.Eugene Galekovic (gk), 2.Osama Malik (10.Dario Vidosic 46’), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Daniel Mullen (14.Cameron Watson 46’), 7.Zenon Caravella, 9.Sergio van Dijk, 11.Bruce Djite (22.Milan Susak 89’), 17.Iain Ramsay, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 21.Francisco Usucar.
Unused substitutes: 20.Mark Birighitti
Yellow cards: Fabian Barbiero 33’
Red cards: Nil