Melbourne Victory climbed to the top of the Hyundai A-League after beating Adelaide United 3-2 in a frenetic, ill-tempered contest at AAMI Park on Friday.
All the goals came in the first half of a match that will be remembered for Victory’s official 10-year anniversary celebrations and a moving tribute to cricketer Phillip Hughes.
Having inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Reds, Kevin Muscat’s side remain unbeaten, while it’s a miracle neither side had a man sent off.
Six players entered the referee’s notebook during a game littered with the flashpoints that have come to characterise this spiteful grudge match.
What they said
“It’s been a big week for us and it’s a big occasion with the 10 years, The crowd was wonderful and I’m glad to take the three points. We did create a lot, we were dangerous on the counter attack again. We lost control a bit in the second half but that’s going to happen when you play a quality side like Adelaide.” – Mark Milligan
“They’re a quality team, they did well in the first half pressing us. In the second half it was a tough game physically and unfortunately we couldn’t get the result tonight. We had multiple clear cut chances tonight but the ball didn’t go in the back of the net. The bounce of the ball didn’t go our way tonight.” – Bruce Djite
1-0 (Nigel Boogaard own goal 7′)
Victory were rewarded for dominating the opening stages of the contest when Boogaard headed Guilherme Finkler’s free-kick past Eugene Galekovic, handing the hosts a deserved lead.
1-1 (Awer Mabil 14′)
Craig Goodwin broke down the left flank and swept in a cross to the back post where Mabil, who had missed a carbon copy of the same chance minutes earlier, this time made no mistake, getting there ahead of Daniel Georgievski and smashing the ball home.
2-1 (Sergio Cirio own goal 16′)
Adelaide were barely level for two minutes before Finkler glided into the area and squared the ball to the top of the six-yard box. Boogaard’s attempted clearance struck Cirio and looped over a stranded Galekovic.
3-1 (Leigh Broxham 32′)
Georgievski collected a clearance from a corner and fed Fahid Ben Khalfallah down the left. The Tunisian’s well-weighted cross to the back post fell perfectly for the unmarked Broxham to convert with his head.
3-2 (Marcelo Carrusca penalty 37′)
Carrusca’s chipped ball forward was collected with his back to goal by Sergio Cirio. Adrian Leijer appeared to bundle the Spanish forward over and referee Kris Griffiths-Jones pointed to the spot. Argentine Carrusca made no mistake with the penalty.
The most significant part of the evening occurred before a ball had even been kicked, with a moving minute’s silence taking place ahead of kick-off in memory of Hughes, who tragically passed away this week after being struck by a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A minute’s applause followed in the 63rd minute.
Nigel Boogaard has been among Adelaide’s best so far this season, but he had two moments to forget in the first half at AAMI Park, scoring one own goal and unwittingly supplying an assist for the other. The Reds defence in general won’t be proud of leaving wee Broxham free at the back post for Victory’s third.
Osama Malik was substituted and had to be carried off on the hour mark, heading straight down the tunnel for treatment on his left leg. Finkler made an early exit for Victory with what appeared to be a groin problem.
Back to the drawing board
Gombau experimented with a highly attacking line-up, dropping former Victory man Jimmy Jeggo and deploying Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio behind the front three, the Argentine and the Spaniard charged with closing down Mark Milligan and Carl Valeri.
The absence of a more traditional, balanced midfielder might have contributed to Victory dominating the opening stages of the contest, although Gombau will argue it was his positive approach that got the visitors back in the game.
The Final Word
Victory will fancy themselves against the Central Coast Mariners at North Sydney Oval next weekend, while Adelaide, who were in this one all the way, are unlikely to be knocked out of their stride ahead of the visit of Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 9.
Melbourne Victory: Coe, Galloway (Ansell 70′), Leijer, Broxham, Georgievski, Valeri, Milligan, Barbarouses, Finkler (Thompson 75′), Ben Khalfallah (Mahazi 85′), Berisha.
Adelaide United: Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, Malik (McGowan 61′), Marrone (Sanchez 66′), Isaias, Carrusca (Jeggo 66′), Cirio, Djite, Mabil, Goodwin.
Scorers: Boogaard OG (7′), Mabil (14′), Cirio OG (16′), Broxham (32′), Carrusca pen (37′)
Red cards: None
Yellow cards: Barbarouses (11′), Isaias (56′), Leijer (69′), Elrich (69′), Mabil (83′), Georgievski (83′)
Conditions: 18 degrees, dry
Attendance: 22,334 @ AAMI Park