Reds sweep past City to stay in the hunt
Both goals came in a pulsating first half courtesy of a stunning Isaias free-kick and Bruce Djite’s injury-time penalty.
But the action on the pitch was overshadowed by an ugly scuffle as the players went up the tunnel at half-time involving almost every player from each side and members of the coaching staff.
The incident saw City goalkeeping coach Joey Didulica sent to the stands while Stefan Mauk and Harry Novillo both received yellow cards.
The drama shouldn’t take away from a brilliant performance by the Reds.
Gui Amor’s side have moved to the top of the ladder and now need to hope Brisbane Roar fail to pick up maximum points against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night to win the Premiers’ Plate.
0-1 Isaias (4’) – The Reds won a free-kick right on the edge of the box with Marcelo Carrusca and Isaias standing over it. It was the Spaniard that took responsibility, lifting it just over the wall and curling it past Thomas Sorensen at his near post.
0-2 Djite (45+2’) – Sorensen needlessly barged into Stefan Mauk to give the Reds a penalty. Djite stepped up and made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way and rolling it into the bottom corner.
Just after the hour mark Adelaide looked like they had the comfort of a third goal when Dylan McGowan out-jumped his marker to head in Isaias cross at the far post.
But the defender’s joy was short-lived, with referee Strebre Delovski ruling out the goal for a slight nudge on Patrick Kisnorbo in jumping for the ball.
The decision kept City in the game but Adelaide were able to see out the result comfortably.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- The defeat was just Melbourne City’s third at home in their last 23 matches and the first time they have been held scoreless in since November, a 3-0 loss to the Wanderers at AAMI Park in round 6.
- After managing just one goal in his first 72 Hyundai A-League games, Isaias has now scored three in his last seven matches.
- There was a real finals feel to the clash, with more than 40 fouls given away and 10 yellow cards.
Isaias doesn’t score a lot of goals but when he does strike they are often screamers. And his early free-kick was just that.
The Spaniard showed great technique to not only get the ball over the wall and back down again, but he managed to get enough swerve on it to keep it out of the reach of Sorensen. A simply sublime free-kick!
Sorensen's silly decision to clatter into Mauk when the ball appeared to be heading safely out for a goal-kick was a poor decision by the experienced gloveman.
It handed the Reds a two-goal lead right on the stroke of half-time and gave his side a huge mountain to climb.
THE FINAL WORD
City were uncharacteristically sluggish and struggled to create much in the front third, something we haven’t associated with John van ‘t Schip’s side this season. They head into the finals on the back of two straight defeats and if Perth Glory beat Sydney FC on Sunday, City will finish fifth and miss out on a home final.
The Reds have done their job, their Premiership hopes now rest on the shoulders of bitter rivals Melbourne Victory, who they will hope can take points of Brisbane Roar on Saturday night. Regardless, Adelaide has sewn up a top-two spot and only re-affirmed they are a serious championship contender over the next few weeks.
Melbourne City: Sorensen (gk), Franjic, Wilkinson (Caceres 71’), Kisnorbo (c), Chapman (Clisby 62’), Malik, Melling (Marino 46’), Mooy, Fitzgerald, Novillo, Fornaroli
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk) (c), Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Goodwin, Isaias, Mauk, Carrusca (Dugandzic 82’), Kamau (Sanchez 67’), Cirio, Djite (Mells 87’)
Scorers: Isaias 4’, Djite 45+2’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Djite 25’, La Rocca 29’, Isaias 31’, Kisnorbo 42’, Sorensen 45’, Novillo 46’, Mauk 46’, Malik 77’, McGowan 79’, Galekovic 90+4’
Conditions: 16C, Partly cloudy