Mabil takes United to semi-final

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Adelaide United has progressed to the semi-final stage of the Hyundai A-League Finals Series after overcoming a brave Brisbane Roar outfit 2-1 at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

In front of 20,155 fans Awer Mabil was able to give the Reds victory in the dying stages of the game after his side had struggled to keep the Roar’s strikers at bay.

But both sides had their chances in the entertaining fixture, forcing top-class saves from Eugene Galekovic and Jamie Young in their goals.

Craig Goodwin broke the game open in the 7th minute, burying a spectacular free kick from 25 yards out to give his side the lead.

Roar defender James Donachie had unnecessarily fouled Jimmy Jeggo in front of goal to gift United the free which Goodwin went back to take. Curling his strike around the wall, the ball tailed back in and cleared the cobwebs of the top corner of the net, leaving Young with no chance.

However, Thomas Broich capitalised on a howler from his marker Dylan McGowan 15 minutes later to bring parity to the affair.

McGowan had tried to sidestep his way out of defence but was closed downed by Broich, so went to plan b and sent a back-pass to custodian Galekovic. Unfortunately for McGowan the pass was limp, rolling into the path of Broich who went one on one with Galekovic and snuck a shot into the far corner.

With the scores level half time came and went and the second stanza took a while to gain momentum, but when it did both sides shared the chances. Pablo Sanchez, Sergio Cirio and Goodwin couldn’t find another way past Young, who pulled out all the stops to parry and fingertip shots away from his net.

At the other end Jean Carlos Solorzano – coming off the bench – nearly found his way past Galekovic in a goalmouth scramble of the highest order, leaving the keeper to hoist himself backwards to stop the ball rolling over the line.

But it was another substitute in Mabil that provided the difference between the sides as he chipped in the winner in the 87th minute.

The pacey midfield had come on with 20 minutes remaining after a four week injury lay off and found himself sprinting down the centre of the park as Cirio and Miguel Palanca exchanged passes down the wing. As Palanca then cut the ball back inside Mabil got an unmarked boot to it to find the Brisbane goal and book a spot in the semi-final next week.

In the post-match euphoria Adelaide boss Josep Gombau was a beacon of restraint, calmly saying his boys will enjoy their win but won’t lose focus of their goal.

“We are happy… and I am satisfied with the way the players played,” he said.

“I want to enjoy this night with the players, and tomorrow we start again.

“For sure maybe tonight I will start to think about what we need to do… but it’s a good feeling and we are one step more from being in the Grand Final,” he said.

Meanwhile eliminated boss Frans Thijssen said that he is disappointed with the loss, given the manner in which his charged played in the second half.

“We had chances to win and we had good spells, and it’s hugely disappointed in the first round [of finals] to go out,” he said.

“Everybody in the dressing room is a disappointed. It’s one game, and that can happen, but in the end we expected more.”

Adelaide United will now face up to Sydney FC in the second semi-final on Saturday, while Brisbane Roar’s 2014/15 campaign is over and its focus will shift to the Asian Champions League.

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (C) (GK), 3. Nigel Boogaard, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik, 7. Pablo Sanchez (74’ Miguel Palanca), 8. Isaias, 9. Segio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca (70’ Awer Mabil), 16. Craig Goodwin (89’ Cameron Watson), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused substitutes:  Paul Izzo (GK), Bruce Kamau

Brisbane Roar: 2. Jerome Polenz, 5. Corey Brown, 9. Andrija Kaluderovic, 14. Daniel Bowles, 15. James Donachie, 16. Devante Clut (74’ Jean Carlos Solorzano) 17. Matthew McKay (C), 18. Luke Brattan, 21. Jamie Young (GK), 22. Thomas Broich, 28. Brandon Borrello

Unused substitutes: Steven Lustica, Jack Hingert, Dimitri Petratos, Fraser Chalmers (GK)

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