Adelaide United remain on track to secure a home Elimination Final after George Blackwood’s header sealed a 1-0 win over fierce rivals Melbourne Victory at Coopers Stadium.
Blackwood’s decisive header nine minutes from time proved the difference and moved United a step closer to guaranteeing fourth spot.
United now just have to beat Brisbane Roar in the final round of the Hyundai A-League regular season.
Marco Kurz made just the one alteration to his starting line-up with Nikola Mileusnić receiving his first start since Round 18 at the expense of Jordy Thomassen. It forced a reshuffle in attack with Ben Halloran leading the line alongside Craig Goodwin and Mileusnić. Youngster Pacifique Niyongabire was also on the bench for the first time this season.
It was Adelaide who made the brighter start to the game without creating any genuine openings.
Goodwin and Ryan Kitto attacked with purpose down the left side, while Isaías was a constant calming influence in midfield – breaking up play.
When Victory did venture forward they flattered to deceive as the United back-four line were resolute in defence. Particularly, Michael Marrone, who snuffed out also sorts of potential danger with a number of interceptions and timely tackles after reading the play to perfection.
Ola Toivonen came the closest to really testing either ‘keeper on the stroke of half-time.
However, even his shot came from a long way out as it curled past the post as a fully-stretched Paul Izzo appeared to have it covered regardless.
That chance or lack thereof from both teams, highlighted what was a cagey first-half of football.
The start to the second-half again mirrored the first period of action as it continued to be tight with opportunities arriving at a premium.
Keisuke Honda was lucky to remain on the park after picking up a caution in the first stanza. Replays clearly showed the Japanese superstar’s studs made contact with Kitto’s knee in the 71st minute.
As Adelaide continued to control the majority of proceedings Victory had a goal chalked off from a corner.
And two minutes later on 81 minutes, Blackwood squeezed past two defenders to thump his header into the ground and in following a sensational cross from Isaías to register a vital three points.
45’ | CHANCE: The ball lands to Toivonen and his first-time effort curls wide of the post from distance.
71’ | FOUL! Honda avoids a second yellow card after his studs catch the knee of Kitto.
79’ | GOAL DISALLOWED: Victory think they scored from a corner but the referee spots a foul.
81’ | GOAL! Blackwood arrives in the box with a thumping header past Acton after meeting Isaías’ cross.
Friday, 19 April 2019
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 – Round 26
Adelaide United 1 (Blackwood 81’)
Melbourne Victory 0
Venue: Coopers Stadium