Adelaide United have secured a semi final against Sydney FC after outclassing a dogged Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Adelaide Oval tonight.
Played at the larger capacity Adelaide Oval instead of the Reds’ regular home ground of Coopers Stadium, a switch that disappointed the club, the FFA would have been left disappointed with the small crowd of just 20,155 that turned out for such an important fixture.
The home side started brightly and took the lead inside ten minutes when Craig Goodwin’s stunning free kick curled into the top corner. Roar keeper Jamie Young was unsighted and reacted slowly as Goodwin’s wicked free kick curled over the wall to the delight of the home fans.
Goodwin should have doubled the lead after brilliant work from Cirio on the right, who turned his man and whipped in a delightful cross that cut across the front of goal, however Goodwin failed to keep his shot down and skied his effort over the crossbar.
Brisbane took 21 minutes to create their first real opportunity of the night, when Devante Clut slipped the ball in for Brandon Borrello, but the youngster’s first touch took him slightly wide and he skied his effort over Eugene Galekovic who wasn’t called upon to make a save.
An error from Dylan McGowan just before the half hour mark gifted Brisbane an equaliser when the 23-year-old defender underhit a backpass, allowing Thomas Broich to pounce and calmly slot the ball underneath Eugene Galekovic to silence the Adelaide Oval crowd.
Cirio proved to be a constant menace for Brisbane on the right hand side, taking on and beating Daniel Bowles on a number of occasions. One such occasion with ten minutes left in the half lead to a corner, from which Newcastle bound Nigel Boogaard should have restored Adelaide’s lead but the defender couldn’t keep his header down.
At the other end Borrello wasted a golden chance for Brisbane when he sprung the offside trap and had Andrija Kaluderovic free in the middle, but the young attacker’s cross was well overhit, denying the Serbian striker would should have been a simple tap in.
In the dying stages of an entertaining first half, Adelaide were denied a penalty when Bowles appeared to handball in the box, but the referee waved away the appeals as the teams headed into the half time break locked at 1-1.
In a game where only a win mattered, both sides came out from the half time break with an attacking mindset. Both defences came under pressure but they were up for the challenge, standing firm to deny every attack that came in the early stages.
Brisbane almost cracked after 72 minutes when a delightful pass from Isaias split the defence and allowed Pablo Sanchez a one-on-one with Young, but his chipped effort inexplicably missed the target entirely.
That opportunity saw the game come to life as both teams went with all-out attacking in search of an elusive winner. Cirio came close to providing it for Adelaide but Young produced a fine save, diving to his right to deny the Spaniard. Less than a minute later at the other end, Kaluderovic’s effort from the edge of the box went just wide of the post.
The winner came five minutes from full time when a quick break from Adelaide saw substitute Awer Mabil get on the end of Miguel Palanca’s cut back to knock the ball past a desperate Young, who did well to get his hand on the shot but couldn’t do enough to keep it out of the net.
Adelaide will now travel to play second-place Sydney FC in what should be a cut-throat semi final clash at Allianz Stadium next weekend.