Adelaide United have seen off a concerted Western United fight-back to return to the Hyundai A-League top six - prevailing 4-3 in a see-sawing affair on Sunday afternoon.
Substitute Nathan Konstandopoulos proved the hero for Adelaide with a 79th minute strike that put paid to a rallying Western United performance that fell short in star striker Besart Berisha's 200th Hyundai A-League game.
The result is the first time the Reds have secured back-to-back wins since November adn sees Gertjan Verbeek's side leapfrog their opponents into fifth on the Hyundai A-League table.
Earlier, Berisha and Nikola Mileusnic delivered first-half doubles for their sides in the open and high-energy contest at Whitten Oval.
Mileusnic capitalised on a Filip Kurto parry to strike the opener on eight minutes but it was cancelled out just four minutes later by Berisha - both goals coming from thumping finishes at similar range inside the box.
However, the Reds countered with a quick-fire double that stunned the hosts.
Mileusnic tucked away his second on the quarter hour after being played in by George Blackwood, before Ben Halloran's cut-back set-up Riley McGree just minutes later to double the advantage.
The visitors appeared steady against their shell-shocked hosts but would come to regret not pressing home their advantage as Louis D’Arrigo and McGree sent enticing sights on goal wide.
It proved to be the let-off Western United needed as they took their chance just before the break – again through Berisha, who tucked away Connor Pain’s cross with a first-time finish to lift his season's tally to ten goals.
Their earlier finishing touch continued to elude the Reds as the usually reliable McGree sent further efforts over the crossbar either side of the half-time break.
And again Western United would capitalise as Alessandro Diamanti restored parity before the hour with a well-placed, curling finish after Adelaide turned over the ball looking to play out from the back.
The Reds seemed destined to rue their missed chances as James Troisi and Miluesnic sent shots agonisingly close mid-way through the half.
However, Konstandopoulos – injected as a substitute just minutes earlier by Verbeek – ultimately came to the fore with a driven finish in the final quarter hour that proved decisive.
Mileusnic finds the opener early
There were early chances for Western United, but it was the Reds that made their first sniff on goal pay dividends.
The visitors took the lead just nine minutes in when George Blackwood's pass from the byline was pushed away by Filip Kurto into the path of the lurking Nikola Mileusnic.
The Adelaide attacker made no mistake with the finish - netting the Reds' first goal in the opening quarter hour of a match this season.
Berisha squares it up in Game 200
Besart Berisha doesn't pass up too many chances to score - and there was no way he was going to miss out in his 200th Hyundai A-League appearance.
After spurning earlier half-chances, he capitalised in the 12th minute on the back of a devastating run through the heart of the Reds formation from Max Burgess.
There was still plenty to do for Berisha though as he took a series of short touches to find the perfect space through the defenders and drive the ball home.
Mileusnic is at it again
The attacking start took to another level again in the 15th minute as Mileusnic restored the advantage for the Reds on the counter.
The move was started by James Troisi in midfield with a well-weighted ball in behind the Western United line for the run of Blackwood, who then placed the ball on a platter for the supporting surge of Mileusnic to thump it into the back of the net at close range.
McGree gets in on the act
There was no time for Western United to catch their breath and reassess as Adelaide yet struck again in the 18th minute to continue their blistering start.
This time it was Riley McGree with the telling touch for his eighth goal of the Hyundai A-League season - his shot taking a slight deflection en route after latching on to a cut-back from Ben Halloran.
Berisha strikes again to bring Western United back
The hosts were somewhat shell-shocked by the visitors' goal spree but knew a reply before half-time would be crucial to any fightback.
Step up Berisha once more in the 43rd minute to seal his brace, but he again benefitted from strong work from his team mates in the build-up.
This time it was Connor Pain that provided the delivery on the back of a give-and-go with Burgess then Berisha doing what he does best with a first-time finish past Paul Izzo.
Diamanti squares it up again
The goals kept coming early in the second stanza as Alessandro Diamanti restored parity for Western United in the 54th minute.
A less than convincing pass from Jordan Elsey opened the door for the hosts when it was picked off by the alert Jerry Skotadis.
From there he picked out Alessandro Diamanti on the edge of the box. A cut back on to his left peg was followed by a composed finish and the Italian had his fourth goal of the campaign.
Konstandopoulos enters the fray...and scores!
Both managers went to their benches in search of a change to would deliver a winner - and it was Verbeek's selection that paid dividends.
Replacing James Troisi, Nathan Konstandopoulos took a matter of minutes to assert his influence with a strong finish in the 79th minute to again give the Reds the lead.
Newcastle Jets v Western United
Saturday, 1 February 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick off: 4.00pm AEDT
Adelaide United v Melbourne City
Saturday, 1 February 2020
Kick-off: 7.00pm local, 7:30pm AEDT
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