Victory crash at home to nine-man Reds

Melbourne Victory’s season of false dawns continues. After a morale boosting win in Wellington last weekend, Kevin Muscat’s side was primed to build on that success when it hosted Adelaide at Etihad Stadium last night.

But once again the former champions fluffed their lines, going down 2-1 to Marco Kurz’s side which finished the game with nine men after Daniel Adlung’s dismissal in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card and Ben Garuccio’s four minutes later, again for a second booking.

Full stretch: Victory’s Thomas Deng clears ahead of Adelaide’s Ryan Kitto. Photo: AAP

Remarkably, 10 rounds into the season, Victory are yet to win at home and any talk of a championship challenge looks fanciful in the extreme.

In the very first minute there was a declaration of intent from Adelaide when their captain, Isais, slung over a free kick from the right which was met by the head of Ersan Gulum, Lawrence Thomas having to make an early save.

Spot of bother: Melbourne striker Besart Berisha failed to convert his penalty attempt. Photo: AAP

Victory did have the ball in the net in the seventh minute when Kosta Barbarouses found James Troisi, whose cross from the left was swept home by Leroy George. However, Troisi had strayed into an offside position before finding George, so the Dutchman’s effort was disallowed.

The first goal came 10 minutes later, and this time it was legitimate – but at the other end.

The Reds won a corner after Stefan Nigro’s challenge ended Nikola Mileusnic’s run down the right. Kitto delivered the dead ball and Adelaide’s Senegalese front man, Papa Babacar Diawara, got away from Mark Milligan, rose high and executed a perfect header to beat Lawrence.

Victory was struggling to get any traction in the forward third of the pitch as Adelaide, with the industrious Adlung and Isiais dictating their tempo, kept threatening.

Drought over: Isaias Sanchez strikes past Victory’s Mark Milligan, as Adelaide claim their first win at Etihad Stadium since 2006. Photo: AAP

Isais forced Lawrence into a save with another long-range effort in the 25th minute, while Diawara almost produced a sumptuous second goal five minutes later, taking the ball on his chest from a throw-in and hitting a fierce shot on the volley as he swivelled to face the goal: Lawrence, did well to dive across and palm the ball away. Isais was Adelaide’s go-to man in the centre, keeping the ball moving and rotating the play, preventing Victory from establishing any sort of cohesive pattern.

Troisi did, however, go close to an equaliser in the 34th minute, his opportunistic strike from outside the area forcing Paul Izzo to dive and pull off an excellent save.

Victory got the chance to draw level just before the interval when they were awarded a penalty after Jason Geria’s shot – from a rebound of an earlier effort by George – was blocked by Garuccio’s arm.

Besart Berisha, who had been a peripheral figure to this point, stepped forward, but Izzo guessed right and dived to get a hand on the low shot, which ricocheted up and hit the bar. George reacted quickest and his shot looked goalbound until Izzo again flung himself into action, pushing the ball up on to the bar and safety.

Adelaide looked the sharper side at the start of the second half as Victory struggled to find rhythm or accuracy in their passes or conviction in their attacks.

But they got their mojo back in sensational style in the 56th minute through Mark Milligan. The Socceroo stalwart controlled a cross from George on his chest, flicked the ball over Adlung with his right foot and then struck a thumping volley left-footed past Izzo. It was a goal of terrific technique and quality, and came just when Victory needed it most.

George set up Barbarouses for a shot that Adelaide blocked, as the hosts, galvanised by the equaliser, stepped up a gear. But Adelaide still threatened on the break, Thomas having to save smartly with his legs to deny Mileusnic.

The latter then played a crucial role in setting the Reds up to retake the lead, breaking down the right to deliver a low cross which substitute George Blackwood, with virtually his first touch of the ball, swept home.

Adelaide had to defend grimly through seven minutes of stoppage time, but the nine men held firm with Izzo in inspired form for a momentous win.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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