Adelaide United’s dream of winning back-to-back Westfield FFA Cups is over, following a 3-1 loss against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Marcelo Carrusca’s 78th minute penalty wasn’t enough to spark Adelaide United into a comeback against Melbourne Victory, who ran out winners thanks to goals from Gui Finkler, Kosta Barbarouses, and Besart Berisha.
With both sides wanting to stamp their mark on the game in its early stages, it was the hosts that enjoyed the majority of possession and grew into the game quicker, dominating play and pressing the Reds very high up the pitch.
With United unable to get hold of the ball for the opening stages of the first half in particular, it didn’t take long for Victory to venture forward and cause the Reds’ defence problems.
In the 9th minute, Fahid Ben Khalfallah was fed through on goal, but was stopped in his tracks when Osama Malik dove in with a desperate sliding challenge.
Malik was subsequently booked by referee, Peter Green, with the dead-ball responsibility given to Victory’s Brazilian import, Finkler, who needed no second invitation to smack a clean strike on goal that sailed past Eugene Galekovic.
Having gone a goal down early, the Reds were brought to life as they sensed the possibility of losing touch with the game and began opening up their play.
But United were unable to muster any clear-cut chances throughout the opening forty-five, registering no shots on goal despite having 54 per cent of possession.
Into first-half stoppage time, the sides looked set to go into the break with just a goal separating them, but a misplaced pass at the back from the Reds allowed Oliver Bozanic to pounce, feeding Ben Khalfallah on the left.
Cutting the ball back, Ben Khalfallah’s cross missed Berisha at the near post, but was met by Barbarouses at the far, converting for 2-0.
United’s approach in the second half was much different to the first, the Reds coming out with newfound intent, as they searched for a way to bring themselves back into the game.
The introduction of Eli Babalj for Iacopo La Rocca just before the hour injected some much needed physicality in United’s front third, the Victory defence finding it difficult to cope with Babalj’s presence at times.
Then, with twelve minutes remaining on the clock, Carrusca stepped up to the penalty spot to slot the ball home confidently to make it 2-1, after Craig Goodwin was fouled in the six yard box as he attempted to reach Mate Dugandzic’s cross from the right.
However, the Reds’ hard work was undone when its defence was caught square at the back when a decisive through ball from Barbarouses found Archie Thompson one-on-one with Galekovic. United’s Captain and ‘keeper proceeded to nudge Thompson off balance, earning the No. 1 a yellow card and granting the hosts a chance from the spot, which Berisha gladly took.
Goodwin had a chance to peg one back in the dying stages when his deflected effort struck the crossbar, but the ball bounced away from danger and was eventually cleared.
Speaking after the match, United’s Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, expressed his disappointment in the result, but said he remains satisfied with the way his team is progressing leading into the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season.
“We you lose, you’re never happy,” Amor explained.
“We knew this game was not going to be easy because we were up against a very good team playing at their home.
“After the first half, it was always going to be very difficult for us to come back from (being two goals down).
“But we’re working every day to make the team improve and we know there are areas where we need to do so and we have no doubt about our team and the players that we have because we have a great squad.
“Obviously we expected the result of this game to be different, but we’re still (optimistic) and happy about where we are leading into the new A-League season.”
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final
Melbourne Victory 3 (Finkler 10’, Barbarouses 45+1’, Berisha (pen) 82’)
Adelaide United 1 (Carrusca (pen) 78’)
Venue: AAMI Park