Reds revive top-four hopes with crucial 3-1 win over Wellington
Ten-man Adelaide United have kept alive their aspirations of securing a home final with a gritty 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.
A Michael Marrone header followed by a brace from Apostolos Stamatelopoulos had the Reds in a commanding 3-0 position just before the break.
But the momentum changed dramatically after Stamatelopoulos was dismissed on the stroke of half-time as the referee conferred with the VAR.
Marco Kurz made two changes to the starting line-up. Nathan Konstandopoulos was selected over George Blackwood, while Ben Halloran replaced the injured Ryan Strain and shuffling Ryan Kitto to left-back and Scott Galloway to right-back.
Adelaide struck first through the unlikeliest of scorers when Marrone jumped highest to head home Craig Goodwin’s corner on 10 minutes.
Incidentally, it was just Marrone’s second Hyundai A-League goal in over 200 appearances and first for the Reds since Boxing Day 2015, ironically against the same opponent.
The early goal was also the perfect tonic for the Reds who were desperate to assert their authority on the game as they looked to draw level on points with the fourth-placed Phoenix.
One-nil quickly became 2-0 seven minutes later after Stamatelopoulos’ emphatic close-range finish.
Halloran’s audacious back-heel released Scott Galloway and his right-footed cross was met by the young striker.
The intensity petered out somewhat for the next 15 minutes as Adelaide’s pressure abated while Wellington enjoyed spells of possession and a few half chances.
But just before half-time Adelaide netted a third again from a wide delivery. Stamatelopoulos connected with Goodwin’s cross and his header crept over the line despite goalkeeper Filip Kurto’s best efforts.
However, the 19-year-old’s day would take a turn for the worst when he was sent off in first-half stoppage time for a careless tackle on Mandi.
He was initially shown a yellow for the foul but upon further intervention from the VAR, the decision was changed to a red.
Following the re-start Adelaide switched to a 4-4-1 formation with Halloran leading the line.
Adelaide’s resistance would be tested for the entirety of the second stanza due to the numerical disadvantage, and they did ride their luck at times with the Phoenix blazing a couple of good opportunities over the crossbar.
Though for the most part they defended resolutely with Michael Jakobsen in particular doing everything to throw his body in the way of shots.
United even appeared to threaten on the counter-attack with Goodwin and Halloran proving excellent outlets.
But Wellington did manage to get one back after Mandi’s strike struck the post and landing straight to substitute Cillian Sheridan for a simple open goal tap-in on 73 minutes.
Nevertheless, United held on for all three points to throw the race for fourth spot wide open.
Adelaide now travel interstate to face sixth-ranked Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
10’ | GOAL! Marrone leaps over his marker to score a towering header off Goodwin’s in-swinging corner.
17’ | GOAL! Stamatelopoulos meets Galloway’s low cross at the near-post, dispatching his thumping finish past Kurto.
44’ | GOAL! Stamatelopoulos nets his second and the Reds’ third with a header from close range.
45’+2’ | RED CARD! Stamatelopoulos’ reckless challenge on Rufer is upgraded from an initial yellow card to a red following a VAR review.
73’ | GOAL: Sheridan follows up Mandi’s shot which ricochets off the post and falling into the path of the striker.
Sunday, 7 April 2019
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 – Round 24
Adelaide United 3 (Marrone 10’ Stamatelopoulos 17’ 44’)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Sheridan 73’)
Venue: Coopers Stadium