An injury-time equaliser by teen substitute Bernardo has secured Adelaide United a point as Saturday’s A-League Men’s clash with Wellington Phoenix ended 1-1.
The Phoenix looked set to secure a fourth-straight win thanks to Gael Sandoval’s first-half strike but 17-year-old Bernardo’s back-post header in the 92nd minute snatched a draw for Adelaide at Sydney’s Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
It’s the first ALM goal for the Brazil-born attacker, who is the son of Adelaide great Cassio.
The point means Adelaide move up to fourth on the ladder after 12 matches while Wellington stay seventh, just one point outside the finals positions.
Wellington coach Ufuk Talay rewarded the same starting XI that defeated Melbourne Victory 1-0 in Wollongong on Wednesday and that consistency paid dividends as the Phoenix dominated the opening half.
With Reno Piscopo and English striker David Ball linking up brilliantly in the final third, it was a surprise it took until the 20th minute for the Phoenix to hit a deserved lead.
Both Piscopo and Ball were involved in the build-up, a wonderful outside-of-the-foot pass from Ball eluding the Adelaide defence and finding Sandoval, whose neat finish to the far post gave Reds goalkeeper Joe Gauci no chance.
After a mistimed header from Adelaide defender Lachlan Barr nearly found his own net in the 42nd minute, it was Gauci who ensured the visitors were only one goal down at the break when he saved with one hand from Piscopo after the Olyroo was again released by a pinpoint Ball pass.
Gauci made some more saves in the second half as the Phoenix pressed for a second goal before fatigue started to take its toll, having played three games in seven days.
Both teams rang the changes with Gary Hooper returning from a hamstring injury off the bench for the Phoenix while Bernardo and new recruit Zach Clough came on for the visitors.
Clough forced Oli Sail into a save moments after the ex-Bolton and Nottingham Forest forward came on but it was Bernardo who proved the hero in the dying seconds to break Phoenix hearts.