It was quite the introduction for Josep Gombau and Adelaide United as they finished 3-1 winners over Perth Glory this past Sunday.
The former Barcelona man’s new look eleven impressed the home crowd dominating possession and creating a number of scoring opportunities. As they faced a rejuvenated Perth Glory who have also have made significant changes going into the season made for an entertaining open game, although by no means a polished performance from the Reds. Adelaide were exposed on the counter and subsequently punished too often, conceding a sloppy goal straight after the opener and then finishing with only nine men. Michael Zullo & Spanish midfielder Isaias, were both energetic and confident with the ball, while Jeronimo showed a sharp predatory touch scoring twice from inside the penalty area.
Coach Gombau’s vision for the side Adelaide systematically insisted upon playing out from the back, treasuring possession and recycling in Spanish style. While playing less direct football than the Coopers Stadium are accustomed to, the team did create chances when patient play resulted in the Reds breaking into the final third. Down the right hand side Daniel Bowles and Fabio Ferreira were both showing signs of adjusting to the new system. Ferreira had little luck in one vs one situations but showing a dogged determination to scrap for a snapshot goal to seal the game in the second half. None of the front three looked their best and yet the Reds managed to register three goals, while at the other end a card-happy Referee (and some questionable gamesmanship from Isaias) led to a tight finish.
Having two men sent off, Adelaide showed a great deal of resolve and organisation to hold off the resurgent Perth. However, Adelaide’s play had a part in the Reds poor disciplinary record for the game as defenders were left exposed. Late on, Osama Malik showed his strength as the holding midfielder in a more defensive set-up for United, which could play Malik into the starting eleven this Friday. Both Isaias and Nigel Boogaard (two yellow cards each) will miss the visit of Melbourne Victory and for the Reds, this will mean a different setup. Meanwhile, young defender Antony Golec seems most likely to fill-in at the back.
Ninety minutes was not long enough to convert all of the Hindmarsh faithful to this new footballing philosophy Coach Gombau has brought in, but signs of both flair and fight for the Reds shirt were clearly evident. Those new to the side and the club have glowing report cards at this stage, even those most quiet against Perth Steven Lustica and Sergio Cirio, but this honeymoon period could be cut short as soon as Round 2 against Melbourne Victory. Coopers Stadium will no doubt be rocking this Friday night for Adelaide’s A-League SBS debut, as a historic rivalry is renewed.