A 90th minute goal from second half substitute, Bruce Kamau, was enough for Adelaide United to clinch a crucial win over rivals Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Friday night.
A tense and fiery affair saw the Reds out-play Victory in the final minutes, securing a vital three points away from home, thanks to a Bruce Kamau winner at the death.
In what was a tense opening 45 minutes, neither teams wanted to give possession away cheaply, conceding a number of fouls that caused play to be rather broken. As a result the first half was largely starved of adequate opportunities, both sides staying strong defensively and becoming increasingly more resilient as the game wore on.
Marcelo Carrusca and Stefan Mauk were lively in the Reds’ midfield with Craig Goodwin his usual busy self on the wing and United’s defensive pairing of Dylan McGowan and Jordan Elsey were kept busy for the entirety of the half, tasked with nullifying a buoyant Besart Berisha and Gui Finkler.
The Reds were able to create some openings through direct Bruce Djite runs through the middle of the park, the No. 11 chasing every ball that came his way. But the best chance of the half fell to Finkler, his free-kick from 30 yards cannoning off the crossbar.
Yet the sides went in at the half unable to break the deadlock, but with plenty to contemplate going into the second period. And it was Guillermo Amor’s men that returned to the field the more energised, bursting out of the blocks and pressuring Victory at every opportunity.
With increased space on the wings, Sergio Cirio and Goodwin exploited it often, crossing a number of times in the direction of Djite, however none were able to connect cleanly with the forward.
Goodwin managed to fashion a chance for himself in the 70th minute when he flew down the left and rifled a thunderous effort towards goal, but the winger was denied by the upright. Ten minutes later, Djite seemed to have put the Reds in the lead when he audaciously chipped Danny Vukovic from outside the box, only to be brought back for the slightest of offsides.
Nevertheless, United weren’t to be denied when a surging Goodwin run through the middle of the park created room for Mauk to receive the ball on the edge of the box. With composure and awareness well beyond his years, Mauk found Kamau who side-footed home a 90th minute winner – his first Hyundai A-League goal in 21 appearances.
However, putting a sour note on the match from a Reds perspective, in the lead up to United’s goal, Goodwin was sandwiched between a Rashid Mahazi challenge, but also, and most importantly, a horrific sliding tackle from Daniel Georgievski. The collision left Goodwin unable to return to the field to play, as he was immediately suffering from concussion.
Following the match, Amor said he had news regarding Goodwin’s condition and the signs were positive despite the severity of the knock he took. Amor also said his side was always going into the match with the intention of winning and extending their good run of form, despite suggestions that his side was hoping for a varying result.
“We have fantastic players with a winning mentality and they work a lot every day,” Amor said. “There’s no secret (to our good form) other than our hard work and the belief that this is possible.
“Our message to the team is always that we want to win. It is possible to draw a game but we came here to win this game.
“The players are only thinking game-by-game, no more. There’s not time for us to be thinking about the table or the future.
“Our situation is good. Is it better than our first games? Sure. But our job is to do more (work) to maintain this level of football that we’re playing.”
Friday, 19 February 2016
Hyundai A-League Round 20
Melbourne Victory 0
Adelaide United 1 (Kamau 90’)
Venue: AAMI Park