A defiant Adelaide United fell 2-0 to Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds were solid for the most part but ultimately came undone in the second-half courtesy of goals from Kosta Barbarouses and Ola Toivonen.
There were three changes made to the starting XI by Marco Kurz. Michael Jakobsen replaced the suspended Taylor Regan in defence, while Ryan Strain came into the midfield and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos received his first start since Round 4.
Victory were dealt an early blow when Georg Niedermeier hobbled off the field after rolling his ankle.
Adelaide were in more control early, switching from a 4-3-3 formation when in possession to a 4-2-4 system without the ball.
And the Reds’ disciplined approach totally nullified Victory’s free-flowing attacking style.
Melbourne’s creative players – Keisuke Honda, Terry Antonis and James Troisi – were denied the freedom to operate and find space for much of the first half.
Adelaide threatened from wide areas and in the 15th minute, Adelaide almost struck first when Marrone’s header from an Isaías corner thudded against the crossbar.
Toivonen later unleashed a dipping hit from outside the box but Paul Izzo was there to palm the Swedish striker’s effort away.
The start to the second-half mirrored the first as it remained a real tactical battle.
However, about ten minutes into the re-start, the match began to open up.
Isaías surged forward from midfield brushing off Troisi and slipped through Stamatelopoulos but was unable to dispatch his shot beyond Thomas.
But it was Kevin Muscat’s men who opened the scoring just past the hour mark.
Antonis’ exceptional cross from the left was headed on target by Toivonen and parried by Paul Izzo but only as far as Barbarouses who was there to finish.
Despite Adelaide’s impressive organised display, they lacked a cutting edge up front.
Kurz turned to his bench which saw youngster Carlo Armiento make his Club debut and showed flashes of his potential.
However, United were punished nine minutes from time.
Troisi played Antonis and his slick backheel released Toivonen who expertly finished his shot beyond Izzo.
It put the game to bed and thwarted any hope of a comeback, while ending United’s two-game winning streak.
15’ | Marrone’s thumping header from Isaías’s corner crashes against the crossbar.
20’ | Toivonen fires a shot from distance, headed for the inside of the far post but a flying Izzo parries the ball away to safety.
52’ | Isaías picks out Stamatelopoulos running through the box, but there’s enough pressure applied to prevent him for dispatching a clean strike and it trickles past the post.
62’ | GOAL: Barbarouses is quickest to react on the rebound after Izzo’s initial save on Toivonen’s header.
81’ | GOAL: Antonis’ classy backheel frees Toivonen who clinically fires his shot beyond a helpless Izzo.
Saturday, 8 December
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 – Round 7
Melbourne Victory 2 (Barbarouses 62’ Toivonen 81’)
Adelaide United 0
Venue: Marvel Stadium