Reds win praise for ACL performance

Adelaide United assistant coach Luciano Trani praised the resilience of his team after snatching a late 1-0 victory over South Korea powerhouse Pohang Steelers in their AFC Champions League clash at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Adelaide United assistant coach Luciano Trani praised the resilience of his team after snatching a late 1-0 victory over South Korea powerhouse Pohang Steelers in their AFC Champions League clash at Hindmarsh Stadium.

In a lacklustre first half starved of chances, both sides sprung to life in the second stanza but were still unable to find an opening.

But just as both teams looked certain to share the spoils, Adelaide striker Bruce Djite headed in an 89th-minute winner.

After receiving a cheeky scoop in behind the defence from winger Iain Ramsay, Reds vice-captain Cassio dealt comfortably with an awkward half-volley to whip across a superb delivery to the head of Djite.

The former Gold Coast forward found the top right-hand corner with a polished knock as the Reds clung to victory.

The win lifts Adelaide into first place in Group E, three points clear of Bunyodkor in second with two games left, and a step closer to qualifying for the knockout stage of the prestigious Asian competition.

Filling in again for John Kosmina, Trani described the pivotal result as an "uplifting performance", particularly after a 1-0 defeat the last time the teams met a fortnight ago.

"We have fought through some huge hurdles this year and now we are seeing the benefits of it, and it's a credit to the players and coaching staff," Trani said.

"This win sets us up in a very good position to qualify ... We just have to make sure that we get a positive result in our next home game against Bunyodkor."

Following an uncharacteristic blunder that allowed Pohang to sneak a win two weeks ago, Adelaide captain Eugene Galekovic was back to his best in the victory.

The Reds custodian was keen to make amends for his surprise error and did so with a series of match-winning saves.

A diving one-handed save in the 10th minute from Galekovic to deny Pohang attacker No Byung-Jun a certain goal typified the goalkeeper's performance.

Trani praised the skipper for yet another inspiring display of character.

"When the chips are down Eugene will come up strong and [this] was again another brilliant performance," Trani said.

"Eugene has come a long way in terms of his journey as a footballer. He led at the front and by example."

In a week that saw Brisbane Roar stutter to a 2-1 loss at home against 2011 K-League runners-up Ulsan Hyundai in Group F and the Central Coast Mariners crash to a 5-0 defeat away to Seongnam Ilhwa and bottom of Group G, Adelaide again reigned as Australia's most successful club in Asia.

With the Reds on the verge of qualifying for their third ACL second-round appearance, Trani put the club's success down to a strong understanding of the Asian game.

"I think our success has been in understanding the competition's limitations, understanding that Asian teams provide a different type of game and realising you must approach the game slightly different (to the A-League)," Trani said.

"It's also about coming up with a balanced game plan that provides an opportunity to come out winning a game, which is probably the main key to when playing against teams in Asia."

Pohang Steelers coach Hwang Sun-Hong was confident his side would progress to the second round despite the loss slipping the 2009 ACL champions into third spot following Bunyodkor's 3-2 win over Gamba Osaka in the other Group E clash.

"Of course the result feels very sad because it was one we obviously did not want," Sun-Hong said.

"But we have two games left and must make sure we play with a purpose in this group stage until the end."