A ripping late goal to Awer Mabil helped Adelaide United book a semi-final berth and score an exciting 2-1 elimination final triumph over Brisbane Roar at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Craig Goodwin's cracking seventh-minute free-kick was cancelled out by Roar spearhead Thomas Broich, who scored 20 minutes later after a Dylan McGowan blunder.
Both sides had their chances in a high-quality, open contest, the Reds creating more but Brisbane looking good swarming forward.
The match tightened into an arm wrestle after half-time and seemed destined for extra-time before Mabil, who substituted into the game for an underdone Marcelo Carrusca in the 70th minute, sent United into the second week of the finals and ended the gallant Roar's title defence.
WHAT THEY SAID
“We’ve been talking about it since the start of this year, when we went out last year it wasn’t a great feeling and the win tonight is a reward for the boys for the hard work we’ve put in this year so we’re going to keep going.” – Adelaide United’s Awer Mabil
“We’re disappointed obviously because it was a must-win game and when you lose it’s obviously massively disappointing. It’s unfortunate, these things happen, you can only keep your chin up and get on with it.” – Brisbane Roar’s Jamie Young
1-0 Goodwin (7')
James Donachie's clumsy, unnecessary foul on James Jeggo allowed the Reds to strike early.
Stepping up for the free-kick from 20 yards, Goodwin's finish was of the highest order, curling a peach into the top corner past despairing Young, who seemed a tad late and unsighted by the Brisbane wall.
1-1 Broich (27')
A horror McGowan attempted back pass was intercepted by the ever-dangerous Broich. The German marksman was never going to miss the one-on-one and, with plenty of space, he moved in for the kill and whipped it clinically past Eugene Galekovic.
2-1 Mabil (87')
Miguel Palanca shimmied past the Roar defence and cut a sweet cross to Mabil around the penalty spot. The exciting young striker cracked it from close range where Young, falling to ground, got a desperate hand on the ball but couldn't stop it finding the back of the net.
With Brisbane gaining a firm grip in a pulsating second half, Corey Brown did well to find Jean Carlos Solorzano in the penalty area in the 78th minute. But the Roar substitute, from point-blank range, stumbled with his first touch and with only Galekovic to beat, tamely bunted the ball away innocuously from close range, denying Brisbane a golden chance to go up 2-1.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The Reds finally cracked that egg that has eluded them for so long. Remarkably this was United's first win against Brisbane on South Australian soil since 2010, snapping an eight-match winless drought.
In the 80th minute, Cirio cut past Donachie with dazzle and drove the ball into the top corner. His strike was on target and would have been the clincher but was denied by an absolutely world-class save from Young, who pulled off three stunning stops in the second half. Mabil managed to find a way past Young later on.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The hero Goodwin came agonisingly close to notching a brace and killing the contest in the 14th minute when his sliding tap-in spooned over the crossbar from five yards out after Cirio danced down the right and fed a sweet low cross. Then in the 25th, Carrusca missed by a coat of varnish after dancing around Borrello. It didn't hurt the hosts in the long run - it just ensured they had to work extra hard for the win.
THE FINAL WORD
The Reds did it the hard way, fighting their way into the semis where they will take on Sydney FC away next weekend, with the winner advancing to the decider. Adelaide are an ever-dangerous finals foe.
Brisbane's title defence never hit any real strides and they were given a lifeline by Perth Glory's expulsion for salary cap breaches. They were brave but not quite good enough.
Adelaide United: Galekovic, McGowan, Malik, Boogaard, Elrich, Isaias, Carrusca (Mabil 70'), Jeggo, Cirio, Sanchez (Palanca 74'), Goodwin (Watson 90').
Brisbane Roar: Young, Polenz, Donachie, Bowles, Brattan, McKay, Clut (Solorzano 74'), Borrello, Kaluderovic, Broich.
Scorers: Goodwin (7'), Broich (27'), Mabil (87')
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Nil
Conditions: 19 degrees, dry
Attendance: 20,155 @ Adelaide Ovalcomments