Adelaide United showed their title credentials in the opening game of their Hyundai A-League campaign with a well-deserved 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
Josep Gombau sent his team out in a 3-4-3 formation which proved effective early on, though it was Brisbane who grabbed the lead thanks to a tricky Thomas Broich free kick, before Bruce Djite equalised before the break in what was a highly entertaining first term.
A James Donachie own goal made the difference in the second half, with Matt McKay’s dismissal for dissent making things all the more difficult for the Roar.
What they said
Jade North: ‘It was a good contest tonight, Adelaide are a good side with a good coach, we knew what to expect but we couldn’t get over the line in the end.’
Bruce Djite on when his strike left his foot: ‘I think if the keeper saves this, he’s killing me!’
The German wasted little time in treating the Suncorp Stadium crowd to a little bit of brilliance as he delivered a free kick from wide on the left which bounced through the legs of Kurtishi and missed everybody else before spinning like a leg break into the far corner of the net.
Receiving the ball about 25 metres out, Djite turned and unleashed a powerful drive with his left foot which Young could do absolutely nothing about.
Donachie OG 56’
A silky smooth counter attack from Adelaide ended with Cirio sending in a brilliant cross from the right which Brisbane right-back Donachie bundled into his own net at the back post.
The Roar have shown so many times that they can never be counted out of a match, especially when Henrique is on the pitch. As the Brazilian zeroed in on goal in injury time, Adelaide defender Tarek Elrich was the man to spoil another dream comeback when he slid in with a last-ditch tackle to prevent a certain goal.
The Reds piled on the pressure early but new Roar signing Jamie Young kept his side on level terms with a spectacular save to deny Marcelo Carrusca in the fourth minute. The Argentinian dove low to connect with a Cirio cross but the Roar keeper showed cat-like reflexes to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Sometimes you just can’t predict what players are going to do, no matter how experienced they are. Matt McKay lost the plot when he thought he should have received a free kick for a perceived foul and was promptly shown a yellow card, then a red, by referee Ben Williams, which made the Roar’s job of finding an equaliser so much more difficult.
Back to the drawing board
Ivan Franjic was always going to be difficult for Mike Mulvey to replace but James Donachie did not appear entirely suited to the role when he slotted in at right-back. Normally a centre-back, the youngster did a decent job when it came to his defensive duties (own goal aside) but seemed hesitant to get forward and join the attack the way Franjic did so effectively.
The Final Word
This is the start to the season that Gombau would have dreamed of; an away win against the defending champions. For Brisbane, meanwhile, there is no need for panic, but there are a number of things Mulvey needs to work on in the next week.
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Smith (c), Stefanutto, Kurtishi (Henrique 76’), Miller, North, Donachie (Solorzano 90’), McKay, Brattan, Broich, Petratos.
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk/c), Boogard, McGowan, Pablo Sanchez, Isaias, Cirio, Carrusca (Marrone 89’), Goodwin, Jeggo, Elrich, Djite (Kamau 84’)
Scorers: Broich (20’), Djite (33’), Donachie o.g. (56’)
Red cards: McKay (72’)
Yellow cards: Jeggo (17’), Isaias (19’), Kurtishi (27’), Boogaard (57’), McKay (72’)
Conditions: 24 °C, dry.