City hold on to early lead in tight win over Reds

A moment of class from Melbourne City midfielder Terry Antonis sent the reigning Premiers on the way to a 1-0 win over Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Antonis opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a long-range stunner, before a string of outstanding saves from City keeper Jamie Young kept Adelaide off the scoresheet despite taking 26 shots on goal.

City jumped into fifth spot on the Isuzu UTE A-League table after the slender victory, leaving Adelaide United in eighth and ending a three-game unbeaten run for Carl Veart’s side.

City sprung into life after the kick-off and had a chance to go ahead inside the first minute at AAMI Park. Scott Galloway created the chance, driving down the left wing and crossing to Jamie Maclaren at the front post whose glancing effort went wide of the mark.

But just four minutes later, Antonis produced a moment of brilliance to get the home side on top.

Tolgay Arslan poked the ball into the path of Antonis outside the box and his rasping strike bent away from Adelaide keeper James Delianov on its way towards the top-right corner.

Antonis’ stunner set the tone for City’s victory – but the visitors had the better of the chances after falling behind and would have drawn level through a Hiroshi Ibusuki header from a corner routine if not for the superb glove work of Jamie Young.

Nestory Irankunda saw a narrow-angled strike deflected into the side netting early in the half and he continued to impact the game as the first half ticked by.

The teenager flashed a shot just past the post in the 42nd minute, then set up Ben Halloran for a strike comfortably saved by Young.

Irankunda switched wings late in the half and had one last opportunity in the first 45, collecting the ball on the right and driving into the box, shooting low off his left foot toward the bottom-right corner. Young was once again up to the task of keeping the Reds at bay.

All eyes were on Irankunda as he kept up the pressure on City’s goal early in the second half – but City’s exciting youngster Ben Mazzeo was equally eager to show what he can produce, cutting onto his left foot and driving a low shot just past the post from the edge of the area.

Another chance presented for Mazzeo on the hour mark and this time he had time and space to strike from inside the box; the 18-year-old scuffed the strike as Adelaide remained within one goal of the home side.

In the 78th minute, Irankunda was presented with a glorious chance to bring his side level when Callum Talbot’s air swing in midfield allowed the Reds forward to swoop on possession and drive past the halfway mark into open space.

Young stood near the edge of his area and awaited Irankunda’s arrival, who elected to try and skip past Young instead of putting a shot on goal. The decision led to an opportunity gone begging, as Young and defender Galloway closed the space to smother the ball and keep Irankunda off the scoresheet.

In the end, Adelaide’s hopes of a point swung on the outcome of that dramatic one-on-one between Nestory Irankunda and Jamie Young – and it was Young who won out, refusing to blink first as his younger adversary spilled possession into his grasp, rather than attempting a shot past the experienced City keeper.

After full-time came a moment of respect shared between the two players, with Young putting an arm around the 17-year-old and offering words of encouragement to the player who, at the end of this season, will depart Adelaide United for the bright lights of the Bundesliga with German giants Bayern Munich.