Resilient Reds take down Victory in Original Rivalry
Riley McGree’s flying start to the season continued in style as his brace hauled Adelaide United to a 3-1 win over traditional rivals Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
The in-form McGree book-ended the scoring for the Reds with a goal in each half to lift his season tally to six Hyundai A-League goals in a dominant performance for the home side.
Despite the return of a number of key players from injury and international duty – including Caltex Socceroo Andrew Nabbout – Victory struggled to assert themselves on the contest.
The Reds saw the better of the first half chances but only held a single goal lead at the break via McGree’s opportunistic opener midway through the first-half.
But Adelaide seemed destined to rue their missed chances, when Ola Toivonen briefly levelled scores for Victory on the hour with his 20th Hyundai A-League goal.
Victory's fightback proved to be short lived when Adelaide struck an immediate reply straight from the kick-off through a Michaël Maria shot which deflected off Migjen Basha for an own goal which gave the hosts back the lead.
After regaining the ascendancy McGree stepped up to bag his second of the night and seal the win for the Reds.
The win is the fourth straight for Adelaide in the Hyundai A-League and moves them to third on the ladder.
The result marked a disappointing return to Adelaide for Victory coach Marco Kurz, whose Victory side are now without a win in their last four Hyundai A-League matches.
Big saves keep it tight early
The early exchanges saw chances for both sides, but the score stayed level thanks to key stops from both goalkeepers either side of the quarter hour.
First Victory’s Lawrence Thomas made a stunning reflex stop to deny a stooping header from George Blackwood, and seconds later Reds gloveman Paul Izzo proved the spoiler at the other end as he foiled a first-time strike from Brown.
McGree draws first blood
The breakthrough came midway through the opening stanza as an opportunistic McGree followed in an initial shot from Kristian Opseth.
Firing on the turn, Opseth’s effort bounced back off the back post where McGree was waiting unmarked to bundle the second chance across the line.
Ways to watch
Chances spurned either side of the break
The Reds dominance did not reflect on the scoreboard despite their heavy helping of scoring chances.
Nikola Mileusnic missed an opportunity to double the lead just before half-time as he skied a shot into the stands, before Opseth missed an early opportunity in the second half as he fired across the face of goal.
Toivonen levels it on the volley
Just minutes after entering the contest from the bench, Robbie Kruse played a crucial role in delivering Toivonen’s equaliser for the Victory.
The Caltex Socceroos winger worked his marker with aplomb on the left before delivering a well-weighted cross for Toivonen to bang home on the volley at the back stick.
Reds reply instantly to home fan’s delight
Straight from the kick-off and the Reds immediately recapture their lead through a Maria strike which deflected off Basha to find its way into the back of the net.
The Curaçaoan drove strongly into the box through the Victory defence before benefitting from the deflected finish to beat Thomas.
Magical McGree delivers again
Battling for the ball wide on the right with Tim Hoogland, McGree won out against the Victory defender to find himself in space in the box.
The Reds’ leading goal-scorer stayed compose to set himself with a touch, then bang home the finish with his left peg.