Tarek Elrich’s late strike was rendered inconsequential as Adelaide United suffered a 2-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Two second-half goals of the highest order from Victory pair Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha ultimately separated the two sides.
Elrich latched on to Marc Marino’s deflected flick-on to produce a stunning effort past gloveman Lawrence Thomas in stoppage time.
In his second game for the Reds, Daniel Margush was also influential throughout making several crucial saves.
There were a number of changes made to the starting XI by Head Coach, Guillermo Amor from the Reds’ midweek AFC Champions League clash against Gamba Osaka.
Young gloveman, Margush and defender, Ben Warland, received their first starts of the season. Marcelo Carrusca returned to the midfield, while new signing Baba Diawara completed his maiden Hyundai A-League appearance.
Adelaide got off to a positive start and were unfortunate not to have taken the lead through Sergio Cirio on three minutes. Dylan McGowan headed the ball across the face of goal, before the Spaniard’s close range strike was saved off the line by Victory’s Leigh Broxham.
Following United’s blistering start, Melbourne regain a stranglehold on proceedings. Jai Ingham flashed a volley wide of the target, before Margush made a quality low save to thwart Rojas’ volley.
Victory tried to capitalise on Margush’s inexperience, but the 19-year-old was unflappable as the hosts peppered Adelaide’s goal.
Centre-backs McGowan and Warland provided adequate cover at the back. The same for Michael Marrone who made several timely interceptions as both teams headed into the break all square.
After the interval, Elrich almost opened the scoring when his venomous shot whistled past the upright on 47 minutes.
Approaching the hour mark, Margush made the save of the clash, standing tall to instinctively deny James Troisi’s ferocious hit.
But Adelaide’s admirable resistance would come unstuck when Rojas dispatched a sensational curling free-kick into the top corner.
The away outfit toiled hard to find an equaliser with Amor also having to make changes with Wednesday’s Asian Champions League fixture in China in mind.
Victory doubled their advantage in the 82nd minute courtesy of Berisha’s classy finish with the outside of his foot.
Elrich halved the deficit in style with a beautifully struck goal to precipitate a nervous finish, but the Victory managed to hold on for the win.
Following the match, Amor, revealed he was proud with the character his team showed, particularly the younger players in the squad.
“I think today the game was good, we played very good and we deserve a better result,” Amor said
“The players today played very well, the young players (such as) Daniel Margush, Ben Warland, Riley McGree, Marc Marino and Mark Ochieng.
“It was Baba’s (Diawara) first game and other players as well (played well), we played at a very good level today.
“The first-half we played with personality and character and we wanted to win the game.”
Saturday, 25 February 2017
Hyundai A-League Round 21
Melbourne Victory 2 (Rojas 66’ Berisha 82’)
Adelaide United 1 (Elrich 90’)
Venue: AAMI Park