Adelaide United defeated Brisbane Roar 2-1 in their elimination final matchup at the Adelaide Oval on Friday evening. The Reds prevailed courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline after a late goal from substitute Awer Mabil sealed the win, which sends them through to a semi final clash with Sydney FC, and ends the Roar’s season. It was Adelaide’s first win in the finals since a 1-0 result against Wellington Phoenix on the 18th of February, 2011.
Adelaide were the better team throughout in front of a crowd of 20,155, and their incisive attacking play exposed Brisbane’s defence time and again during both halves, with Roar keeper Jamie Young producing an outstanding display to keep his side in the match.
Craig Goodwin gave the ‘home’ side an early lead with a 7th minute freekick from all of 30 yards, swerving and dipping around the wall. Adelaide had chances to double their advantage soon after, with Goodwin again at the centre of the action. He wasted a chance at the far post after Sergio Cirio’s cross from the right, before Marcelo Carrusca blasted narrowly over from almost exactly where Goodwin’s set piece had been struck.
Adelaide were left to rue these missed chances as Dylan McGowan stumbled and underhit a backpass, allowing Thomas Broich to run through on goal and slot the equaliser past goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic. It was a well taken goal but arguably an undeserved one, although the Reds were given a brief lesson in finals football with Broich’s clinical finish in the 27th minute.
Just five minutes later and it was Brisbane’s turn to serve up a chance on a platter, with Daniel Bowles miscontrolling a high ball, only for Jimmy Jeggo to shoot straight at Young in the Roar goal. Nigel Boogaard headed a corner over the crossbar soon after, and Goodwin forced a save from Young with a curling cross cum shot from a free kick wide on the right touchline, leaving the scores level at halftime and the home fans a little frustrated.
United began the second half as they ended the first, somewhat disjointed but still the better of the two teams. Cirio produced a brilliant piece of trickery to leave his marker for dead, only for Pablo Sanchez to head wide – the sort of chance that one imagines injured frontman Bruce Djite would have buried.
Sanchez had another fantastic chance when Isaias’ cleverly disguised pass sent him through on goal, but his chip from a narrow angle was disappointing and trickled past the far post in the 73rd minute. A minute later and Young was called upon to turn away a header with sharp reflexes, with Luke Brattan helping to clear the ball of the line following an Adelaide corner.
Cirio tested Young again as the clock struck 80 minutes, with the inform keeper acrobatically tipping the goalbound effort over the crossbar. Roar had a chance to snatch what would have been an undeserved winner just moments later, but quick thinking from Galekovic prevented the ball from crossing his goal-line.
Young produced another strong save in the 85th minute as Goodwin drove on his favoured left foot from inside the area, but the Reds finally found a way through Young for the second time shortly after.
Two of coach Josep Gombau’s substitutes combined with Miguel Palanca finding Awer Mabil with a low cutback, only for the winger’s strong shot to find the palms of Young. Beaten by the power of the strike, Young was unable to turn the effort wide and it looped up and behind the stranded keeper, nestling in the net after rolling beyond the reach of his outstretched arms.
It was a cruel blow for Young, who produced a fantastic display to keep his team in the match. It was on the other hand, a deserved win for Adelaide who dominated for large stretches of the game.
Brisbane looked set for a new era, with Frans Thijssen to depart the club. Current Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx has been heavily linked with the post, and is the favourite to take over as the club looks to return to the finals again in the 2015/16 campaign.
Adelaide now face Sydney FC next Saturday night at Allianz Stadium with a spot in the Grand Final on the line. The Reds have beaten Graham Arnold’s team in three of their four matchups this season, including a 3-1 win at Allianz in the FFA Cup.