Adelaide bounce back from Sydney trouncing with with win over Western on the road

Adelaide United have notched a 3-1 win over Western United in Ballarat, responding in style to a hefty defeat to Sydney FC prior to the international break.

The Reds opened the scoring in the first half through Ben Halloran, but Western responded after the break, levelling the score through Lachlan Wales.

But Adelaide hit back in style, scoring twice through Alexandar Popovic and Luka Jovanovic in the 10 minutes that proceeded Western’s solitary goal to go 3-1 ahead, and ultimately, out of sight.

The result sent Adelaide above Brisbane Roar into third spot on the table, while Western’s fourth-consecutive defeat kept John Aloisi’s side planted to the foot of the table.

Halloran opened the scoring with a smart finish from the edge of the area, collecting Nestory Irankunda’s cross on the left wing, cutting across the box and directing his strike toward the bottom-left corner, leaving Thomas Heward-Belle no chance of a save.

Adelaide took the one-goal lead to half-time, with Joe Gauci depriving both Josh Risdon and Wales with first-half saves to keep his clean sheet intact to the break.

Wales equalised in the 53rd minute, showing determination to squeeze a close-range shot through bodies and over the line.

It was the goal that should have launched Western toward at least a share of the spoils – but Adelaide struck two killer blows in quick succession to go back out of sight.

First it was Popovic, venturing forward from defence and rising to nod home a dangerous cross from Zach Clough, restoring Adelaide’s lead just three minutes after Western drew level.

Then it was 18-year-old Jovanovic, in his first start of the season, turning home a cross at the near post with an inventive finish to make it 3-1 just beyond the hour mark.

Then came a barrage of chances for Western to strike back. Riku Danzaki was played into the box by Daniel Penha and was one-on-one with Gauci; Danzaki attempted to skip round the keeper who showed sublime reactions to get a strong left paw on the ball and poke it out of Danzaki’s control.

Soon after it was Wales sent through in a one-on-one by another brilliant Penha pass. Wales succeeded in rounding Gauci, but with an open goal at his mercy, Popovic got back to put his body on the line and make the last-gasp tackle.

Chances continued to flow for Western with Wales in the thick of the action, but Adelaide held strong to ensure they ran out 3-1 victors at Mars Stadium.

Key moment:

Adelaide leaders Joe Gauci and Ben Halloran have lauded their team’s response to conceding a second-half goal to Western in what they identified as the pivotal moment of the 3-1 win in Ballarat.

When Lachie Wales bundled home the equalising goal, attention turned to how the Reds would react; in the game prior to the international break, Adelaide conceded four goals in 40 minutes in a 5-1 loss to Sydney FC at home.

But both Gauci and Halloran lauded the fight shown from the Adelaide squad against Western on Sunday; the Reds scored twice in quick succession to move out of sight, with Gauci producing huge saves while defenders Alexandar Popovic and Nick Ansell put their bodies on the line to block multiple Western chances late in the piece.

“I think the response from the group today was fantastic,” Gauci said.

“Coming off the previous game when we ended up conceding so many goals in such a short space of time, I think the response once we did concede was really big.

“It’s massive. It’s something we worked on a lot through pre-season and the first month of the season: that desperation in front of goal, celebrating blocking shots and making saves just like we’ve scored a goal. That’s something the coaches have really driven, and it’s also something we’ve worked on ourselves as a playing group.

“You can see the boys making big blocks in front of my goal, to make my job a lot easier. It’s all about desperation in front of goal at both ends.”

Halloran was one of the goalscorers for Adelaide in the 3-1 win over Western, but was eager to throw plaudits to players across the board, echoing Gauci’s sentiment that the Reds cannot win games in the Isuzu UTE A-League with attacking firepower alone.

“Hugely proud, especially after the performance we put in against Sydney,” Halloran said.

“We pride ourselves on our togetherness and fight. Some of those last-ditch tackles and saves by Joe towards the end there, we were celebrating like they were goals. I think that’s just as important as scoring at the other end.”

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