Two goals in five minutes has seen Spanish powerhouse Villarreal come from behind to defeat Adelaide United 3-2 in an enthralling contest at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
The Reds became the first Hyundai A-League team to entertain European opposition this off-season and gave an enterprising account of themselves in front of a boisterous home crowd.
United jumped to a two goal lead just after half-time courtesy of strikes from Craig Goodwin and Michael Marrone either side of the break but couldn't hang on in the closing stages.
A stunned Villarreal side were able to pull a goal back through Manu Trigueros before Argentine striker Luciano Vietto drew his side level with a header of his own to set up a tense finale.
With all the momentum with the La Liga giants Gerard was able to conjure a winner, linking up with Vietto and slotting a cool finish in extra-time to give the touring side the win.
A healthy crowd of over 9,000 watched a nervy start from both teams, with Goodwin continuing his strong finish to the season with a composed finish to open the scoring.
Reds' player of the year Sergio Cirio made one of his typical darting runs down the wing after winning possession, teeing up his teammate who was able to hit across the keeper into the bottom corner.
Josep Gombau's side doubled their advantage shortly after the interval from a set piece. Goodwin turning provider when he whipped in a corner which was met by a thumping header from midfielder Michael Marrone.
It took a goal line scramble to get Villarreal back in the contest with Trigueros reacting quickest to turn the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
However the class of Vietto proved telling with the game on the line, the sort after 21-year-old grabbing a header of his own before creating the assist for Gerard to turn the the tie in his side's favour.
Speaking after his side's LFP World Challenge clash coach Josep Gombau highlighted Adelaide's tremendous effort and the overall entertaining spectacle the match provided.
“I think that we did a good game until we got a little bit tired,” Gombau explained. “The team played well and in some moments in the game I think that we had even more possession and the control of the game.
“But in the end the last fifteen minutes the team physically went a little bit down because for three weeks we’ve not had (competitive games).
“We need to think that Villarreal is a team that is very good and if you make mistakes they will profit from them.
“But I feel we’ve ended the season in a good way in terms of the style of our play, but it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get the result (tonight).
“We’ve played a very good season and we are happy for what we did and if you think that we’re one of the teams that spent little money (on players), and we finished third, won the FFA Cup, and (qualified) for the Asian Champions League.
“We can’t complain.”
Friday, 29 May 2015
LFP World Challenge
Adelaide United 2 (Goodwin 34’, Marrone 51’)
Villarreal CF 3 (Trigueros 63’, Vietto 86’, Gerard 90+1’)
Attendance: 9,036 @ Coopers Stadium