Adelaide breaks Western Sydney hearts

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Adelaide United has defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 on a hot Saturday evening at Coopers Stadium, despite the poor finishing on display.

Relief and joy swept over the 9,212 strong crowd as Sergio Cirio slotted home an injury-time winner, having been part of an attack that missed a plethora of scoring opportunities after going down early in the first half and drawing level early in the second.

It was a similar tale for Josep Gombau’s men – particularly in the second half – as they dominated all facets of the game only to squander their chances with sub-par finishing until deep into added time, when Cirio collected Craig Goodwin’s cross to slot home past Ante Covic from 10 yards out.

The Wanderers took the lead in the 19th minute when Labinot Haliti managed to find himself with just the keeper to beat after a free kick was floated into the area. Although Galekovic was able to get a fist to it, the ball stayed within the realms of the Adelaide goal and Brendon Santalab sent it straight back from whence it came.

The ball found its way to Haliti through a sea of Adelaide defenders, and despite enthusiastic appeals for an offside flag – the likes of which may have carried some merit – the ball found its way over the line and the Wanderers had the lead.

It should have been doubled just minutes later when Nikita Rukavytsya found himself one-on-one with Galekovic, but his low drive was too straight and the famed keeper was able to get a big glove to it.

But what the Reds lacked in the first half was made up for in the second, as Adelaide threw the kitchen sink at the Wanderers with long diagonal balls wreaking most of the havoc. It was one of these balls that delivered the equaliser as Marcelo Carrusca played Bruce Djite on through the Wanderers defence. In the sprint between Djite and Covic for the ball the striker won, and with the keeper totally out of position the goal was inevitable.

From them on Adelaide piled pressure on to the visitors, often breaking down the barriers of defence in their flamboyant, entertaining style. Carrusca, half-time sub Awer Mabil and Cirio pioneered the endeavours, the three of them pushing the Wanderers deep into defensive territory. But it appeared that it was all going to amount to nothing, as Cirio went over an open goal, Carrusca went one-on-one into Covic’s chest, and Mabil shot wide from close range. When winger Goodwin tried to show them up, he too decided to fire straight at the keeper. Josep Gombau would have been a very frustrated man.

But the Adelaide boss isn’t one to spill the beans after a tense match, and using all his skills in diplomacy he said that all he is concerned about is three important points for his side.

“We are a team and we need to try to win, and after the first half after we go one-nil down we try to go ahead,” the Spaniard said.

“For me, in the first half Western Sydney beat us; they knew exactly what we wanted to do.

“Again we missed a lot of chances, but the good thing is we are creating these chances,” he said.

Meanwhile a disappointed Western Sydney boss Tony Popovic felt his side didn’t deserve to lose,

“Initial thoughts are of disappointment… I thought the players did very well today away from home against a good team,” he said.

“You wouldn’t have thought that we are a team that’s down the bottom.

“I think the game changed when they scored, they got some momentum and confidence but we had numerous opportunities to finish them off but unfortunately we couldn’t do it,” he said.

Adelaide have moved to within a point of league leaders Perth Glory with the victory, and will take on Melbourne City in Melbourne on Friday night. The Wanderers well endure a tough week ahead, with their 2015 Asian Champions League opener against Kashima Antlers in Japan on Wednesday, before flying back for the Sydney Derby on Saturday.

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 2.  Michael Marrone, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik (Craig Goodwin 45+1’), 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca, 11. Bruce Djite (Pablo Sanchez 68’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 19. Miguel Palanca (Awer Mabil 45’), 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused substitutes: 14. Cameron Watson, 20. Paul Izzo (GK)

Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante Covic (GK), 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (C), 5. Brendan Hamill, 7. Labinot Haliti (Romeo Castelen 61’), 8. Mateo Poljak, 10. Yojiro Takahagi, 11. Brendon Santalab (Tomi Juric 34’), 12. Nikita Rukavystya, 13. Matthew Spiranovic, 18. Lapoco La Rocca (Jason Trifiro 78’), 25. Samuel Gallaway

Unused substitutes: 2. Shannon Cole, 20. Dean Bouzanis (GK)

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