Adelaide and Wanderers sprint for the finish

Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers have played out an exciting two-all draw at Coopers Stadium in the final round of the Hyundai A-League in front of 7, 636 fans on Saturday night.

It was a game of two halves in Adelaide, with the Reds dominating the first and the Wanderers fighting back superbly in the second.

The Reds went into half time with a two-nil lead, a just advantage for the dominant side. Excellent control of possession and tempo allowed the home side to build telling pressure on the Wanderers, which forced a number of errors.

The first of these reared its head in the 9th minute when Eli Babalj was fouled by Aritz Borda on the penalty spot as the ball was crossed in. Colt midfielder Marcelo Carrusca took to the spot kick and chose right, easily sending the ball past Vedran Janjetovic in goal who guessed left.

On 38 minutes the advantage was doubled when ever-present defender Dylan McGowan tapped in from Sergio Cirio’s strike after a corner. McGowan, who lead the United scoring charts from centre-back, found himself in the right spot and the right time again and the Reds looked unstoppable.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Nicolas Martinez’s penalty was saved by Eugene Galekovic on the cusp of half time; the experienced keeper showing age is no barrier when he guessed correctly to demoralise Western Sydney even more.

But Western Sydney Wanderers made up for all its inadequacies in the first half with a storming comeback in the second. From the resumption, Adelaide was pushed back and the pressure became too much to handle when captain Dimas headed into an open goal on 63 minutes. The skipper was the only one to react to Steven Lustica’s free kick into the cross bar, and Dimas had the goal at his mercy.

The Reds tried to reassert some pressure, but the Wanderers had all the answers and eventually Iacopo La Rocca suffered a brain fart against his old club to concede a terrible penalty, easily converted by Lustica on 73 minutes.

It was a fair finish to an even, exciting conclusion to the league for these sides. Adelaide finishes ninth in the league, and its only concern is the Asian Champions League, for which it still holds a slim chance. Meanwhile, the Wanderers will turn its focus to the finals series, after finish either fifth or sixth in the league depending on other results.

Adelaide United FC: (9’ Carrusca [pen], 38’ McGowan)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: (63’ Dimas, 73’ Lustica [pen])

Venue: Coopers Stadium
Attendance: 7, 636

Referee:  Chris Beath
Assistant Referees:  Matthew Cream, Paul Centrangolo
Fourth Official: Daniel Elder

Adelaide United FC: 1. GALEKOVIC, Eugene, 2. MARRONE, 3. LA ROCCA, Iacopo, 4. McGOWAN, Dylan, 8. ISAIAS, 10. CARRUSCA, Marcelo, 11. CIRIO, Sergio, 18. McGREE, Riley (53’Kim Jae-Sung), 19. GARUCCIO, Benjamin, 24. O’DOHERTY, Jordan (77’ Nikola Mileusnic), 92. BABALJ, Eli (70’ Baba Diawara)
Substitutes: 7. JAE-SUNG, Kim, 9. DIAWARA, Para Babacar, 15. WARLAND, Benjamin, 17. MILEUSNIC, Nikola, 30. MARGUSH, Daniel

Western Sydney Wanderers: 2. COLE, Shannon (75’ Mario Shabow), 5. HAMILL, Brendan, 7. LUSTICA, Steven, 8. DIMAS, 10. MARTINEZ, Nicolas (64’ Manyiel Riel Majok), 13. PINATARES, Bruno, 17. BORDA, Aritz, 18. CORNTHWAITE, Robert, 20. JANJETOVIC, Vedran, 29. GRIFFITHS, Ryan (81’ Stefan Zinni), 42. BACCUS, Keanu
Substitutes: 1. TYSON, Jerrad, 21. SHABOW, Mario, 26. BANDIERA, Jackson, 28. ZINNI, Stefan, 49. MAJOK, Manyiel Riel

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