Melbourne Victory 3 Adelaide United 2
There are very seldom dull Victory-United derbies, the one earlier this year at Adelaide Oval, being the exception. This one was anything but, with two bizarre own goals to begin with, a goal chalked off in mysterious circumstances and a contentious penalty kick. There were five goals in a blistering first half, but none in the second when United should have taken advantage of a string of free kicks in goal-scoring positions.
Both teams were close to full strength and the return of key players—Marcello Carrusca and Bruce Djite for the visitors, Kosta Barbarouses and Nick Ansell for the home team—improved the quality available to their respective coaches. Within seven minutes, Victory was ahead. Gui Finkler’s probing free kick found Nigel Boogard facing his own goal and he made contact with his head a fraction before Eugene Galekovic and the ball looped over the keeper and off the underside of the bar before finishing in the net. Twice Awer Mobil streaked past a ball-watching Daniel Georgievski. The first time the winger blasted wide from a good position, the second time he connected with Craig Goodwin’s cross for the equaliser.
Three minutes later another teasing effort by Finkler led Boogard to attempt a clearance but he only managed to strike team-mate Cirio in the face and the ball rebounded into the net. That was Melbourne Victory’s third ‘own goal gift’ in succession after Jade North had given it the win over Brisbane Roar last week. No wonder Cirio was not amused when bundled over by Finkler and then abruptly helped to his feet by the Victory man. That led to a brief ‘how’s your father’ in midfield and tensions were never far below the surface thereafter.
You could not keep Finkler out of the action and in the 32nd minute he sent Fahid Ben Khalfallah away on the left and the winger’s cross allowed Leigh Broxham to head home unchallenged from inside the goal area. Finishing in the back of the net he was in more danger from celebrating team-mates than Adelaide defenders.
Then came the strangest incident in the game. Adelaide were awarded a free kick out on the right on a fairly narrow angle. It was driven goalwards and went straight into the net, but the goal was not given. The referee blew his whistle almost as soon as the kick was struck which suggests, as his body language did, that there had been pushing in the area, but replays suggested not near the trajectory of the ball. At first I thought it had been an indirect free kick, but the referee did not have his hand up when the kick was taken. All very puzzling.
Three minutes later Victory central-defender Adrian Leiger seemed to put his hands out on either side of Cirio to maintain his own balance as the Adelaide striker backed into him. Kris Griffiths-Jones saw it differently and gave a penalty kick. Carrusca placed it down the centre of the goal as Nathan Coe dived to his left. Mabil lost and won the ball back from Mark Milligan as Adelaide chased a leveler before half-time.
Djite and Goodwin both tested Coe early in the second half as Adelaide took control of the game for significant periods. Barbarouses twice lifted the siege with a header which went wide and a pass which ran away from Besart Berisha, who made up for his lack of goals in this game by some completely unselfish high-line pressing and chasing. Osam Malik collapsed with a leg injury and had to be replaced by Dylan McGowan on the hour mark, but Adelaide continued to charge at the home defence. Leijer made a professional challenge on Tarek Elrich as the wing-back bore down on goals. Both players were booked following the incident.
Nick Ansell came on for Finkler and showed that he was able to pick up the pace of the game very quickly. He could not avoid being struck in the face by a fierce cross from Djite but recovered after treatment. Pablo Sanchez led the Adelaide fans at the other end to erupt in premature celebration after his close range effort went into the side-netting but that was United’s last gasp as five minutes of stoppage time came to an end shortly afterwards.
Melbourne Victory: Coe, Galloway (Ansell 70′), Leijer, Broxham, Georgievski, Valeri, Milligan, Barbarouses, Finkler (Thompson 75′), Ben Khalfallah (Mahazi 85′), Berisha.
Adelaide United: Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, Malik (McGowan 61′), Marrone (Sanchez 66′), Isaias, Carrusca (Jeggo 66′), Cirio, Djite, Mabil, Goodwin.
Scorers: Boogaard OG (7′), Mabil (14′), Cirio OG (16′), Broxham (32′), Carrusca pen (37′)
Red cards: None
Yellow cards: Barbarouses (11′), Isaias (56′), Leijer (69′), Elrich (69′), Mabil (83′), Georgievski (83′)
Conditions: 18 degrees, dry
Attendance: 22,334 @ AAMI Park