Gallant Reds suffer Elimination Final defeat to Victory
A disciplined Adelaide United outfit suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to rivals Melbourne Victory in the Elimination Final at AAMI Park on Sunday night.
Nikola Mileusnic fired the Reds in front but his goal was inconsequential as Leroy George soon equalised before Besart Berisha executed a stunning acrobatic bicycle kick to score an 89th minute winner.
Marco Kurz recalled Captain, Isaías, to the starting XI following being rested last week in what was the only change made by the German tactician from last week’s win over Western Sydney Wanderers.
Adelaide began on the front foot and looked to suffocate Melbourne from playing their natural passing game.
It certainly appeared to work with Adelaide limiting Victory’s attacking quartet from causing any real problems in the first-half.
Marco Kurz’s men pressed high up the park and stayed compact as a unit. Isaías expertly screened the back four in front of Ersan Gülüm and Jordan Elsey who were also resolute.
However, for the majority of the first-half chances were few and far between and it was very much dominated in midfield as both sides went into break goalless.
The disciplined approach to the Elimination Final continued in the second-half for the first 10 minutes until Adelaide broke the deadlock.
Mileusnic’s latched on to a swift free-kick from Isaías and buried his opportunity.
But the lead was short-lived as George headed in Kosta Barbarouses’ pin-point cross.
The match became an end-to-end affair with the scores locked at 1-1, though Melbourne had the clearer chances.
Berisha nearly scored had it not been for the foot of Paul Izzo to deny him from close range.
Though as the game seemed destined for extra-time, Berisha stepped up and scored a sensational volley at the death, in what was a painful way to bow out of the finals series.
57’ | GOAL! Isaías sends a quick free-kick over the sleeping Victory defence to Mileusnic, who runs on to it and clinically finishes beyond a stranded Lawrence Thomas.
63’ | GOAL: Barbarouses dances down the right wing before having the awareness to pick out George to head home and immediate restore parity.
69’ | Berisha connects with George’s diagonal low cross but the striker’s close-range shot is saved by Izzo’s foot.
89’ | GOAL: Berisha spectacularly scores an acrobatic attempt from another inviting Barbarouses delivery to end the Reds’ season.
Sunday, 22 April 2018
Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season – Elimination Final
Melbourne Victory 2 (George 63’ Berisha 89’)
Adelaide United 1 (Mileusnic 57’)
Venue: AAMI Park