Melbourne City interim coach Michael Valkanis praised his former club Adelaide United for their ‘do-or-die’ display in beating his City team 2-1 on Thursday night at a hot Coopers Stadium.
In the opening game of Round 15, City conceded a superb 87th minute winner to rising star Mark Ochieng to give the home side a shock win to kick-start their season.
And Valkanis, a former Reds player and assistant coach, paid tribute to the home side’s tenacity in the shock win that's reignited the Reds' season.
“Adelaide were desperate today and when they were pinned back they were fighting for their lives, defending the box, desperately, and in the end you have to congratulate them on getting the three points,” he told reporters.
“It was their do-or-die game as well… understanding their situation they were going to give everything and we knew it would be [like] a Grand Final.”
But Valkanis, nevertheless, was bitterly disappointed to be hit by a sucker punch late, albeit one with such class by substitute Ochieng.
“I think we had them against the wall for some time and completely dominated and the [statistics] show that as well. But unfortunately one moment with the counter attack and it was a goal [to Adelaide].
"But I thought we pinned them back for some time, we got into the [penalty] area, we dominated, but it was just one moment, a counter attack and 2-1.
“Not a game I think we should have lost.”
But despite the result, Valkanis said he was confident City could catch runaway leaders Sydney FC, who sit top of the league now 13 points ahead of City with a game to be played this round.
“I think we’re good enough…. When I look at today’s effort from the boys, you can’t take away how hard they worked or how they played football, to pin Adelaide back, away from home.
“From the way they [the City players] played, they showed they were capable and that’s football sometimes; you can dominate and one moment, one counter attack in the second half, that’s what cost us the game.”
He added former Reds players Bruce Kamau and Ruon Tongyik put in excellent shifts to underline their potential as stars of the future.
City next play on Thursday night at home to Central Coast to kick off Round 16.