United and Victory draw in tense tussle

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Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory have fought out a tense draw at Adelaide Oval on Friday evening after both teams scored within the last five minutes of the match.

Despite a deep and long-lasting rivalry between the two sides, the affair never really took off, with players from both sides giving the ball up with frustrating consistency, which was coupled with the referee’s inability to allow the game to flow.

The resulting lack of chances meant that the 33,000 supporters who turned up were not given the show they were expecting, at least not until the last 10 minutes.

On 85 minutes, Sergio Cirio ripped the game open with an incisive run down the left flank. Having collected Tarek Elrich’s wonderful through-ball, the small winger was able to dispose of Mark Milligan with ease and hit the far side net of Nathan Coe’s goal.

But the arm wrestle returned just three minutes later when substitute Fahid Ben Khalfallah was able to bring the Victory back to level terms as he capitalised on some poor defending and knocked a corner ball into the roof of the net.

The comeback delighted the Victory’s travelling supporters, and despite a flurry of Adelaide corners in the dying minute, the game was consigned to the draw it always looked to be.

After the match, Adelaide’s coach Josep Gombau said he was disappointed that his charges couldn’t hold on to all of the points, but was satisfied with the performance no less.

“In my opinion, I think we had the better chances to score… but we didn’t put the ball in the net, so all is fair,” Gombau said.

“It was like a game of chess… and both sides were thinking ‘we don’t do this because they’ll do that’, but that is normal, because it’s a big game and both teams won last week.

“My feeling is good, because the players are working hard and playing good football… and if we play like this next week, we will win,” he said.

Gombau’s opposite number, Kevin Muscat, was more circumspect in his assessment of play, claiming that his team should have taken the points back home, saying that his side asn’t able to control Adelaide as they’d have liked.

“We are a little disappointed that we didn’t get into our groove, it was a difficult night,” Muscat said.

“I’m especially disappointed that we didn’t retain possession, especially in the first half.

“We’d set ourselves up, win the ball back, but didn’t allow ourselves to build and go forward,” he said.

In spite of the result, the Melbourne boss was happy that his team got away with the draw, after going down late in the game.

“It’s a massive positive as well, to go down one nil here… we had the belief that we didn’t want to get beat,” he said.

“We seemed to raise the intensity and the tempo after conceding the goal, so we can have a look at that as well.”

The match turned out to be a fiery affair, with a total of six cautions being handed out of referee Peter O’Leary, four of which were to the visitors.

Earlier, both teams had been intent to give as little away as possible, as Adelaide knocked the ball around in the midfield and Melbourne Victory looked to counter attack.

Despite the suspenseful nature of the game, both teams had some significant chances in the first half, all of which were squandered without finding the back of the net.

Gui Finkler gave the Victory their first and best opportunity when he found himself clear on goal, but he was only able to put the ball into orbit, much to the relief of the home crowd.

Elsewhere, Adelaide’s best chances came from consecutive corners. The Reds’ first effort found centreback Nigel Boogaard with the ball on the six yard box after a goal mouth scramble, but was deflected clear. On the second effort Sergio Cirio dove to get his head to the ball at the far post, but a Victory boot got their just in time to knock the ball back to goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

Melbourne Victory will play their cross-town rival Melbourne Heart next week and Adelaide will host Perth Glory after playing Sydney FC in their FFA cup tie on Tuesday.

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 3. Nigel Boogaard, 4. Dylan McGowan, 7. Pablo Sanchez (88’), 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carusca, 11. Bruce Djite, 16. Craig Goodwin (80’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 21. Tarek Elrich

Substitutes: 2. Michael Marrone (88’), 5. Osama Malik, 22. Fabio Ferreira (80’), 24. Bruce Kamau, 30. John Hall (GK).

Melbourne Victory: 1. Nathan Coe (GK), 2 Jason Geria (79’), 5. Mark Milligan (c), 7. Gui Finkler, 8. Besart Berisha, 9. Kosta Barbarouses, 10. Archie Thompson (71’), 15. Daniel Georgievski, , 17. Matthieu Del Pierre, 21. Carl Valeri, 23. Adrian Keijer (64’)

Substitutes: 6. Leigh Broxham (64’), 11. Connor Pain, 14. Fahid Ben Khalfallah (71’), 16. Rashid Mahaz I (79’), 20. Lawrence Thomas (GK)

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