Adelaide United has landed the first blow in the battle for the Hyundai A-League Premiership after a 2-0 win over Melbourne City in a fiery clash on Friday night.
Both goals came in a pulsating first half courtesy of a stunning Isaias free-kick and Bruce Djite’s injury-time penalty.
But the action on the pitch was overshadowed by an ugly scuffle as the players went up the tunnel at half-time involving almost every player from each side and members of the coaching staff.
The incident saw City goalkeeping coach Joey Didulica sent to the stands while Stefan Mauk and Harry Novillo both received yellow cards.
The drama shouldn’t take away from a brilliant performance by the Reds.
Gui Amor’s side have moved to the top of the ladder and now need to hope Brisbane Roar fail to pick up maximum points against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night to win the Premiers’ Plate.
0-1 Isaias (4’) – The Reds won a free-kick right on the edge of the box with Marcelo Carrusca and Isaias standing over it. It was the Spaniard that took responsibility, lifting it just over the wall and curling it past Thomas Sorensen at his near post.
0-2 Djite (45+2’) – Sorensen needlessly barged into Stefan Mauk to give the Reds a penalty. Djite stepped up and made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way and rolling it into the bottom corner.
Just after the hour mark Adelaide looked like they had the comfort of a third goal when Dylan McGowan out-jumped his marker to head in Isaias cross at the far post.
But the defender’s joy was short-lived, with referee Strebre Delovski ruling out the goal for a slight nudge on Patrick Kisnorbo in jumping for the ball.
The decision kept City in the game but Adelaide were able to see out the result comfortably.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- The defeat was just Melbourne City’s third at home in their last 23 matches and the first time they have been held scoreless in since November, a 3-0 loss to the Wanderers at AAMI Park in round 6.
- After managing just one goal in his first 72 Hyundai A-League games, Isaias has now scored three in his last seven matches.
- There was a real finals feel to the clash, with more than 40 fouls given away and 10 yellow cards.
Isaias doesn’t score a lot of goals but when he does strike they are often screamers. And his early free-kick was just that.
The Spaniard showed great technique to not only get the ball over the wall and back down again, but he managed to get enough swerve on it to keep it out of the reach of Sorensen. A simply sublime free-kick!
Melbourne City: Sorensen (gk), Franjic, Wilkinson (Caceres 71’), Kisnorbo (c), Chapman (Clisby 62’), Malik, Melling (Marino 46’), Mooy, Fitzgerald, Novillo, Fornaroli
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk) (c), Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Goodwin, Isaias, Mauk, Carrusca (Dugandzic 82’), Kamau (Sanchez 67’), Cirio, Djite (Mells 87’)
Scorers: Isaias 4’, Djite 45+2’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Djite 25’, La Rocca 29’, Isaias 31’, Kisnorbo 42’, Sorensen 45’, Novillo 46’, Mauk 46’, Malik 77’, McGowan 79’, Galekovic 90+4’
Conditions: 16C, Partly cloudy