Fifteen-year-old Irankunda sparks Reds into dramatic comeback after free-kick

Adelaide United

Fifteen-year-old Nestory Irankunda has scored his first Isuzu UTE A-League goal to spark Adelaide United’s thrilling late comeback to beat Newcastle Jets 2-1. 

Goals from Irankunda and Hiroshi Ibusuki – both substitutes – in the 88th and 91st minutes allowed the Reds to claw their way back from a goal down and claim three valuable points in Newcastle.

Irankunda got the comeback going with a magical free kick from 25 yards, giving Newcastle keeper Jack Duncan no chance after his side had failed to create many chances of note through a cagey second half.

As the clock wound down into stoppage time, Japanese forward Ibusuki bobbed up at the back post to fire home the winner and send the Reds’ fans into delirium.

Unlikely hero Irankunda said his first ALM goal meant a lot.

“I wasn’t expecting it to come from a free kick but the captain and everybody gave me the ball, and that gave me the belief to take the free kick,” he told Network 10.

“Last year I was playing under-15s and they put me on free kicks and I just felt like I was back there at that moment, at my old club taking a free kick and then I just hit the ball and it went in.”

The Jets, who hadn’t played since they lost to Macarthur on December 19, led on the hour mark through Beka Mikeltadze, who hung in the air and acrobatically fired home an Olivier Boumal cross.

The Georgian forward now has five goals for the season to share the lead in the race for the Golden Boot.

The first half was possibly most notable for the four yellow cards the Reds received in the first 30 minutes, including for a harsh body-check from Jacob Tratt and a dive by Mohamed Toure.

After creating the opening goal, Boumal continued making it happen for the Jets through the second half, cutting inside off his right wing before blasting over from just inside the box after 66 minutes.

As they pushed for an equaliser, United produced their best chance when Josh Cavallo found Ibusuki with an inch-perfect ball and he lashed a shot at Duncan, but the Jets’ custodian was equal to the task.

Newcastle’s Angus Thurgate said the result was particularly difficult to take after the long wait for the match due to a string of COVID postponements.

“We had a great foothold on the game and we threw it away the end,” he told Network 10.

“Really, really tough to take. We’ve worked so hard. We’ve had six weeks to get ourselves up this game and that’s just really disappointing.”

Adelaide jumped to third with the win, while Newcastle remain on the bottom, although they do have a number of games in hand.