Brosque fires Sydney into grand final
An early Bernie Ibini strike and goals from skipper Alex Brosque either side of half-time had the Sky Blues in cruise control before the Reds produced a late flurry of chances.
Craig Goodwin closed the gap 16 minutes from time and it sparked a spirited fightback from the visitors.
Nigel Boogaard hit the post while Awer Mabil, Miguel Palanca and Sergio Cirio all wasted glorious opportunities in a frantic few minutes which would have set up a grandstand finish.
Instead it was the Sky Blues who finished with a bang, Chris Naumoff capping a sublime performance with a late goal to send Sydney FC to their first decider in five years.
1-0 Ibini (19’) – A lofted pass forward by Nikola Petkovic saw Naumoff get in behind the Reds defence down the left wing. The teenager raced into the box, got around Dylan McGowan brilliantly before cutting the ball back to Ibini, who finished powerfully into the roof of the net from just inside the area.
2-0 Brosque (45+1’) – Milos Dimitrijevic drove at the Reds defence before finding Ibini on the right. Ibini sent in a perfect cross to the near-post and Brosque did the rest, producing an audacious back-heeled flick which snuck past Eugene Galekovic at the near post.
3-0 Brosque (47’) – Naumoff was again involved, slipping a pass to Marc Janko – who was offside – in the box. The Austrian was dispossessed by Isaias but the loose ball fell to Brosque who finished clinically into the far corner.
3-1 Goodwin (74’) – The Reds broke forward on a quick counter-attack and had a three-on-three with Goodwin surging right through the heart of the Sydney defence. He swerved past the challenge of Matt Jurman and his shot squeezed under Vedran Janjetovic and trickled over the line.
4-1 Naumoff (90’) – Naumoff found Antonis about 25 yards from goal and continued his run forward, getting a return pass and smashing it high into Galekovic’s net.
Inside the first 10 minutes Sydney defender Sebastian Ryall put in a crunching challenge on Reds playmaker Marcelo Carrusca which incensed his Adelaide team-mates. Ryall escaped a caution but it set the tone for an imposing performance by the Sky Blues, who were intent not to be bullied by the visitors this time. Carrusca was largely ineffectual on the contest after that point, until it was too late for the Reds.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The victory was just Sydney FC’s second in their last 10 A-League finals matches, and first over Adelaide United in seven attempts.
With his goal it means Ibini has scored in four successive matches while Brosque has scored a brace in three out of his last four matches.
Adelaide appeared like they would get to the break just a goal down until the Sydney skipper produced a moment of magic. Ibini’s cross was a little bit behind Brosque but he had the presence of mind to try a cheeky effort with his right foot – flicking in behind his left – which caught Galekovic by surprise. It was pure genius from Brosque and a goal that broke the Reds’ hearts.
In his first A-League finals match, the performance of Naumoff also caught the eye. He produced a scintillating run early on where he sliced through three defenders and shot just wide before setting up Ibini’s opener soon after. His goal at the death was the cherry on top of a sweet display. The 19-year-old has arrived.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
After using a back three against Brisbane last week, Reds boss Josep Gombau switch to four at the back for this one with Osama Malik deployed there. While the versatile Malik has performed strongly in that role before, he was exposed on numerous occasions early on. He was all at seas for Sydney’s opener, allowing Naumoff to get in behind and tee up Ibini.
THE FINAL WORD
The Sky Blues made a mockery of their home struggles – and poor record against the Reds – by putting Adelaide to the sword.
They took the game to the visitors from the outset, scored at crucial times and looked assured for the most part in defence.
A trip to Melbourne to take on premiers Victory awaits in a blockbuster grand final, while the Reds' season ends in disappointment but with the FFA Cup trophy in the cabinet.
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Ryall, Faty, Jurman, Petkovic, Tavares, Dimitrijevic, Ibini (Grant 76’), Brosque (Smeltz 80’), Naumoff, Janko (Antonis 61’)
Adelaide United: Galekovic, McGowan, Boogaard, Elrich, Malik (Mabil 46’), Isaias, Jeggo, Carrusca, Cirio, Sanchez (Palanca 66’), Goodwin
Scorers: Ibini 19’, Brosque 45+1’, Brosque 47’, Goodwin 74’, Naumoff 90’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Ryall 30’, Faty 33’, Mabil 75’, Isaias 76’, Brosque 76’, Petkovic 77’
Conditions: 16C, Fine
Attendance: 26,783 @ Allianz Stadium