Mullen brace caps off magical Asian night

Defender Daniel Mullen has given Adelaide United FC another memorable and historic AFC Champions League scalp as they overwhelmed Gamba Osaka 2-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Two first half goals from defender Daniel Mullen has given Adelaide United FC another memorable and historic AFC Champions League scalp as they overwhelmed Gamba Osaka 2-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Reds- unlikely goal scorer capitalised on two superbly executed set pieces to maintain the Reds- perfect record after two games and leave them on top of the group after Bunyodkor upset Pohang in Korea in the other Group E fixture.

The victory also gave United its first win over Gamba in four attempts and condemned the decorated J-League club to their first ever loss against an Australian team.

Having stated in the weeks leading up that they would use the two preceding Hyundai A-League games as preparation for tonight-s encounter against Gamba, the Reds- words rang true as they followed a specific and thoroughly thought out game plan to brilliant effect.

Further enhancing the result was that the Reds managed to keep a clean sheet against a club that they lost to five-nil on aggregate across two legs back in the 2008 ACL Final. Sure this current Gamba side appeared a level below the one almost four years ago, but the Reds again showed the discipline to restrict one of Asia-s most well known clubs.

Following a coy first 10 minutes where the focus of both teams was keeping their shape tight and compact, the Reds again proved they would not be overawed by a highly fancied opponent and the AFC champions League-s big stage.

The Red had winners all over the field in the first half. Dario Vidosic sent the first warning shot in the 12th minute when he teased the Gamba defence before unleashing a venomous drive that Gamba keeper Yosuke Fujigaya knew little about but he somehow managed to parry the ball over the bar.

Then five minutes later, the Reds exposed Gamba-s defensive weakness in the air to go in front. Mullen headed a delightful Vidosic free kick into the crossbar but the Adelaide born 22 year old would not be denied twice, as his follow up header from the rebound took a deflection off Gamba-s Korean striker Lee Seung-Yeoul and totally deceive Fujigaya.

Seung-Yeoul tried to make amends as he thundered a shot on goal but he found a Eugene Galekovic at the top of his powers, the Reds captain producing a brilliant instinctive save to palm the ball away.

Galekovic-s effort was then rewarded as the Reds struck again from another well worked free kick. This time it was an inswinger from Cassio that had Gamba all at sea, Djite-s header initially denied by an under siege Fujigaya, but an alert Mullen was the first to react and he could not miss from point blank range. If he didn-t score Djite would have, and remarkably the Reds were two goals up.

Galekovic was keeping up his end of the bargain as he pulled off another top drawer save to again deny Seung-Yeoul in the 34th minute, the Reds playing inspired football all over the park, Cassio and Iain Ramsay-s link up down the left a feature, while there was an evident understanding between the back four.

Djite-s physical presence and bodywork up front was causing Gamba-s defence all kinds of headaches as he provided an imposing target to aim at, the J-League club unable to make the most of a couple of free kicks just before half time to snatch a goal back.

Holding onto their two goal advantage, the Reds were content to slow the tempo down in the second half, although Vidosic was determined to continue on where he left off, another superb solo run in the 58th minute only foiled by some desperate Gamba defending just as he pulled the trigger.

United-s coaching staff went to the bench as a fresh Fabian Barbiero, Evan Kostopoulos and Sergio van Dijk were all introduced, the Reds- lead never seriously threatened as they sent the club-s die hard fans home smiling.

An extremely pleased Luciano Trani credited the Reds- ability to carry out a game plan and galvanise together after what has been a disappointing domestic campaign.

“Tonight was just a chance for the players to make up for what has been a poor season in the A-League and I think we-ve just seen if the outcomes in terms of our discipline is there, anything can be achieved,” Trani said.

“It-s like everything - if you are organised from the start you are always going to give yourself a chance of being competitive and I think now that we-ve taken our chances with our set plays, they-re obviously making a huge difference in some of our games, and hopefully that continues on in the ACL.”

Match Details Adelaide United FC 2 (Mullen 17-/24-) Gamba Osaka 0 Referee: Mohamed Abdelkarim Alzarooni (UAE) Crowd: 5,112 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Osama MALIK, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Bruce DJITE (9.Sergio VAN DIJK 80-), 17.Iain RAMSAY (23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS 78-), 21.Francisco USUCAR (18.Fabian BARBIERO 74-)

Substitutes not used: 12.Antony GOLEC, 14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Jacob MELLING, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) Yellow Cards: Mullen 36- Red Cards: Nil

Gamba Osaka line-up: 1.Yosuke FUJIGAYA (gk), 2.Sota NAKAZAWA, 4.Hiroki FUJIHARU, 7.Yasuhito ENDO, 9.RAFINHA, 11.PAULINHO (10.Takahiro FUTAGAWA 77-), 15.Yasuyuki KONNO, 17.Tomokazu MYOJIN (c) (13.Shinichi TERADA 71-), 21.Akira KAJI, 23.Takuya TAKEI, 37.Lee SEUNG-YEOUL (8.Hayato SASAKI 64-)

Substitutes not used: 5.Daiki NIWA, 14.Shu KURATA, 25.Hiroyuki ABE, 29.Atsushi KIMURA (gk) Yellow Cards: Nakazawa 24-, Kaji 90+1- Red Cards: Nil