Adelaide United have created Australian football history by claiming the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup after beating 10-man Perth Glory 1-0 in Tuesday’s final at full-voiced, packed-out Coopers Stadium.
Sergio Cirio, as he has been throughout the Reds’ triumphant Cup campaign, proved the hero with a superb 67th-minute goal, taking advantage of Josh Risdon’s dramatic send-off nine minutes earlier, which left the visitors undermanned and, ultimately, out of puff.
Despite their disadvantage, Perth were gallant to the end and never threw in the towel but it wasn’t enough to prevent United claiming South Australia a first piece of football silverware since claiming the A-League’s first premiership plate in 2005-06.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It’s amazing, I think it’s even more special being at Hindmarsh Stadium. We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park today and credit to them, they fought with 10 men. In the end we probably had the better chances and I think we deserved it today.” – Reds Captain Eugene Galekovic
“To win the inaugural FFA Cup is a fantastic achievement and I’m so happy for this family of players we have here. I’m so proud, what a fantastic team effort, everyone played their part and I can’t wait to touch the trophy.” – Reds striker Bruce Djite
1-0 (Cirio 67′)
Capping a characteristically sweet chain of passes, Marcelo Carrusca, on the edge of the box, played in Cirio with pinpoint perfection.
The Spanish superstar, a firm favourite of victorious second-year coach Josep Gombau and deserved Mark Viduka medallist, danced past Perth skipper Michael Thwaite and threaded home the title-clincher with a classy finish from a tight angle around Danny Vukovic.
Cirio scored in every one of Adelaide’s Cup outings, finishing with a competition best six goals in five games.
Josh Risdon’s careless 58th-minute shirt tug of Carrusca earned the Glory defender his second yellow card and an early shower.
Booked just before half-time for going in late on Carrusca, Risdon was given his marching orders before a hour was up, again infringing on Adelaide’s Argentinean star, allowing the home side to further press its swelling advantage.
Cirio was the man of the moment but fellow Spaniard Isaias provided plenty of highlights.
He racked up 90 passes, generally of high quality, and also came oh so close to cracking the Reds’ second goal when he forced Vukovic to leap for a high deflected stop in the dying minutes.
Risdon was doing a lot of things right in the decider, defending stoutly and passing nicely.
But he will unfortunately be remembered for his two sloppy bookings and expulsion cost Perth big time.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Rostyn Griffiths had possession muscled off him around halfway in first-half stoppage time which gave Bruce Djite the all clear. Bursting forward, the Reds striker found Awer Mabil with a pinpoint pass, but the youngster, with acres of space to work and only Danny Vukovic to beat, blazed high, wide and not so handsome, a huge let-off for the visitors just before the interval.
THE FINAL WORD
Exalted United have barely three days to relish their Cup triumph before reverting back to league mode and tackling the winless Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium.
Glory will be keen to turn this one around quickly and maintain their winning A-League ways when they host the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.
Adelaide United: Galekovic (c), Marrone, Boogaard, McGowan, Isaias, Cirio, Carrusca (Pablo Sanchez 80′), Djite (Watson 86′), Mabil (Ferreira 59′), Jeggo, Elrich
Perth Glory: Vukovic, Griffiths, Djulbic, Zadkovich, Keogh, Marinkovic (MacLaren 79′), Garcia, Risdon, De Silva (Sidnei 45′), Jamieson, Thwaite (c)
Scorers: Cirio (67′)
Red cards: Risdon (58′)
Yellow cards: Garcia (32′), Risdon (42′, 58′), Isaias (69′)
Conditions: 19°C, windy