First-half onslaught ensures Adelaide record vital win over Phoenix
A 10-man Adelaide United have blown the race for a top-four berth wide open with an impressive 3-1 over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
The Reds scored all their goals in a dominant first-half with an early Michael Marrone header followed by two goals to young striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.
But Stamatelopoulos went from hero to villain just before the break, sent off for a poor lunging tackle on Mandi after the referee consulted VAR.
Wellington piled on the pressure after the break and got one back through substitute Cillian Sheridan’s first Hyundai A-League goal but were unable to complete the comeback.
The result means the Reds continued their recent dominance of the Phoenix, now unbeaten in their last 11 games against the Kiwi outfit.
And Adelaide have now moved to 37 points – level with Wellington – although Mark Rudan’s men remain fourth courtesy of a superior goal difference.
But with three games to go, it promises to be a thrilling battle for a top-four berth, with Melbourne City just a point further back.
It took just 10 minutes for the Reds to go in front, with Marrone heading in Craig Goodwin’s corner for just his second-ever goal in the Hyundai A-League.
Ironically, his only other goal in the competition also came against the Phoenix at Coopers Stadium.
Wellington were uncharacteristically lacklustre and were further behind seven minutes later when Stamatelopoulos began his eventful afternoon.
Ben Halloran’s back-heel rewarded the overlapping run of Scott Galloway, with his cross perfect for the teenager to sweep in at the near post.
Stamatelopoulos had a second just before the break heading in from close range after a great delivery from Goodwin.
But immediately from the kick-off the Reds attacker inexplicably lunged in on Mandi, earning a straight red card after the referee consulted the VAR.
With the numerical advantage, the Phoenix dominated possession and chances after the break but had to wait until 17 minutes from time to pull a goal back.
Mandi’s shot from the edge of the box went through a sea of players and hit the post, with Sheridan on hand to finish off the rebound.