Guillermo Amor’s men have set a new club record and jumped to top of the league, recording a 4-0 dismantling of Wellington Phoenix and making it a remarkable 14 games since their last Hyundai A-League defeat.
With top spot up for grabs for United at kick-off, Guillermo Amor’s side had plenty to play for in a cold and windy fixture at Westpac Stadium. And with a hint of potential retribution in the air after Phoenix managed to beat the Reds 4-2 in Round 6, the stage was set for a massive clash.
From kick-off, the Reds were relatively slow out of the blocks, especially in comparison to the blistering starts they made to more recent fixtures, most notably last weekend against Brisbane Roar.
But United settled well and bossed possession from the outset, feeling their opposition out initially, rather than wasting valuable control of the game in risky offensive advancements.
The ever-present Dylan McGowan, who is yet to miss a single minute of domestic football this campaign, was a mammoth at the back for the Reds throughout the match, and after resisting some Phoenix pressure in the opening 30 minutes, put his side ahead with a neat sliding finish.
A Marcelo Carrusca corner was out-swung to the back post and met by Jordan Elsey, who had the presence of mind to centre his header, rather than try what would have been an audacious effort on goal, with McGowan taking full advantage of a fortuitous deflection, caressing the ball home.
Ten minutes later, young South Australian and firm contender for the competition’s Young Footballer of the Year, Stefan Mauk, finished off a brilliant move from the Reds to give them a two-goal advantage at the break.
Sergio Cirio picked up the ball deep in his own half following a Phoenix attack and sent a surging pass down the line for Carrusca to chase. Carrusca, with enough skill to make even the most experienced defender look like an amateur, blew past a seemingly stagnant Alex Rodriguez before weighting the perfect ball for Mauk, who made no mistake with his finish.
Four minutes after the restart, Bruce Djite got his second goal in as many games when his first-timed effort cannoned into the net and past a helpless Glen Moss. The move, which was once again born through the ingenuity of Carrusca, saw the Argentine send the perfect pass right through the heart of the Phoenix defence, but from the most awkward of positions, near the far touchline. His ball was met by Goodwin who, through sheer instinct, played an immediate cross for the arriving Djite.
Mauk seemed to have bagged his second for the match when he followed up a parried save by Moss from a rifled Michael Marrone strike, however referee, Peter Green, judged the attacking midfielder to have fouled Moss in the process.
Close to full-time, second half substitute, Pablo Sánchez, rounded off a fantastic performance from the visitors, finishing past Moss, following a perfectly timed interchange with fellow countryman, Cirio.
The night was soured early in proceedings after Tarek Elrich was withdrawn from the match with a suspected injury, whilst Pablo Sánchez also seemed to pick up a knock in the process of scoring his goal.
Following his team’s masterful display, Amor urged for calm ahead of the Reds final five matches to the regular season, saying his team will enjoy the wind, but will be quick to refocus on their next match.
“Today was a good game and it was a good day for us – the team, the players, our group,” Amor said.
“We are very proud of our players because their fight and sacrifice was magnificent during the game, during our trainings, and all throughout the last week (in preparation).
“The season is not finished, but until now the players have (performed) at a very good level.
“You imagine tings, and you dream sometimes (of where you want to be and where you deserve to be).
“We always thing day by day and focus game by game. During the week, the work of our players gives you more confidence because everything from them is so good.
“We must enjoy the game, the result, and the situation we’re in. Now we’re calm and will work more and more.
“Now we go step by step and go with humility (into our next game).”
Saturday, 5 March 2016
Hyundai A-League Round 22
Wellington Phoenix 0
Adelaide United 4 (McGowan 31’ Mauk 41’ Djite 49’ Pablo Sánchez 90’)
Venue: Westpac Stadium