Adelaide United defeated Perth Glory 2-0 at Coopers Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a match that the Reds dominated from start to finish. A beautifully crafted Sergio Cirio goal gave the Reds the lead inside of 20 minutes, before Awer Mabil sealed the points with a clever near post finish in the 68th.
The win means United lie level with Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at the top of the A-League ladder with seven points from their first three matches, while Perth suffer the pain of defeat for the first time this season.
But what are the major talking points from an impressive United performance and a lacklustre one from the Glory?
Cirio the goal getter
With Bruce Djite absent due to a calf injury, the Reds needed someone to step up in front of goal and Sergio Cirio was the man.
The winger may be short in stature but he’s had a big impact for United so far this campaign, scoring five goals in six matches for Adelaide in the A-League and FFA Cup.
His finish in the 18th minute of Sunday afternoon’s match was typical of the Spaniard since his arrival in the A-League – calm, assured and technically proficient. Cirio’s goalscoring exploits and all round play have endeared him to the Hindmarsh faithful and he is an outside bet in this season’s golden boot race. United coach Josep Gombau praised Cirio’s performances in recent weeks.
“[Ciro's] doing very well,” Gombau said.
“In the end when you bring a foreign player that’s what you expect, that he’ll be an important player in your squad.
“He’s a hard worker, and brings to [Adelaide] a lot of [different] things.
“We’re using him depending on the game like a seven, an eleven, a nine and a ten.
“This is what I like about [Ciro] you can use him in every single position in the front, and you know he’ll bring a percent.”
Set pieces still a concern for United
United controlled possession and dictated the tempo for almost the entire match but Perth did have a few chances, created almost exclusively through set pieces. Deliveries from corners and free kicks remain a worry for United and there is culpable tension every time one is awarded to the opposition.
United keeper Eugene Galekovic appears to have recognised the problem and as captain has taken some extra responsibility, coming for more aerial balls than usual. If this becomes a habit it would be a welcome for a United side lacking in height.
Glory kept quiet
Although Perth manufactured a few opportunities through set plays the visitors there were relatively subdued in attack. There was little incisiveness to their play and their midfield look fractured and without any rhythm.
This lack of fluidity meant very few clear cut chances and frustration threatened to boil over in the second half, with five Glory players getting booked. It remains to be seen if Perth’s plodding build up play is a tactical problem or simply an off day for the Glory midfield, but it won’t have pleased coach Kenny Lowe, who took the high road and credited Adelaide for their solidity.
“They’ve got some really good players. Sometimes you’ve got to give credit to opposition.”
Special atmosphere at Coopers
It was not the loudest, it was not a sellout, but the 11,473 fans at Coopers Stadium on Sunday were part of an atmosphere of expectation.
In what was the Reds’ first ‘real’ home game after playing Melbourne Victory at the Adelaide Oval last Friday night, the crowd conveyed a sense that there is something special brewing and the players backed that up, as they have done so far this season.
Strong, vibrant performances in the A-League and FFA Cup have the United faithful believing this could finally be the year they lift their first trophy since winning the Premier’s Plate in 2005/06.
The Reds are through to the semi finals of the Cup and unbeaten in the league, United stand a real chance of winning silverware this season.