The Original Rivalry returns to the Hyundai A-League Finals Series for the first time since 2009 as Adelaide United visit Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday night in the second Elimination Final.
So to get you into the mood here are three memorable finals moments.
Beltrame’s penalty shootout heroics – 11 February 2007
After Adelaide suffered a 2-1 aggregate loss to Melbourne Victory the week prior, the Reds welcomed Newcastle Jets in the Preliminary Final for a place in the Grand Final. The tense clash finished all square at full-time after Vaughan Coveny cancelled out Carl Veart’s clinical strike. Nothing could separate the two sides in extra-time, forcing a penalty shootout.
Both sides had successfully converted three spot-kicks each before goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame grabbed all the headlines. He parried Coveny’s shot and then produced a spectacular diving save to his left to deny Stuart Musialik. It sent Reds fans, players and coaches alike into a frenzy as United prevailed 4-3 on penalties and into the Grand Final.
Barbiero’s stunning strike books Grand Final appearance – 21 February 2009
The Reds were out to avenge their heavy defeat over two legs to Melbourne against Brisbane Roar at Coopers Stadium. And the fans that attended witnessed first-hand one of the greatest goals scored in finals history.
A long ball from Eugene Galekovic was headed down by Cristiano for Fabian Barbiero. The midfielder controlled the ball, and unleashed a sublime half-volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. His shot ricocheted in off the apex of the top left corner, and it was a strike worthy of deciding any football match, booking a place in the title decider.
Pablo Sánchez seals Adelaide’s maiden Championship – 1 May 2016
It was Adelaide’s first visit back to the showpiece event since the heartache of 2009 against the Victory. They also fell short to the same opponent two years’ earlier. However, one major difference was that the Reds would play hosts. More than 50,000 spectators packed into Adelaide Oval for the clash with Western Sydney Wanderers.
United were out to banish their past misfortunes and they got off to the ideal start through Bruce Kamau. Isaías then doubled the lead with a sumptuous free-kick but WSW halved the deficit after the interval. Despite Adelaide in control, the slender advantage triggered some nervous moments. But the home crowd could breathe a collective sigh of relief which immediately turned into scenes of euphoria, courtesy of Pablo Sánchez’s sealer.
The Spaniard capitalised on an error in the 90th minute sparking wild celebrations. The goal secured an historic Premiership and Championship double, something no one could have envisaged at the start of the season when the Reds were winless from the opening eight games.
Adelaide United face Melbourne Victory in the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Elimination Final on Sunday, 22 April at AAMI Park. Kick-off is at 5.30pm ACST.