Adelaide United has advanced to the semi-finals of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Finals Series in dramatic scenes after a 1-0 extra-time win over Melbourne City on Sunday night.
Ben Halloran’s 119th minute goal finally broke City’s resistance in the Elimination Final at Coopers Stadium as Adelaide now face Perth Glory on Friday night.
The winger came close to scoring in two previous occasions, both which hit the woodwork, so it was fitting he finally got his just reward.
Marco Kurz named an identical starting line-up for the third straight game, hoping to continue the winning formula that saw the same eleven collect triumphs over Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar.
The noise that reverberated around the near capacity crowd certainly gave the Reds a massive lift early into proceedings.
They dominated possession and were extremely dangerous in transition through the attacking quartet of Craig Goodwin, Nikola Mileusnić, Halloran and George Blackwood.
Halloran went within inches from opening the scoring on 14 minutes after being expertly played through by Goodwin.
The 26-year-old met the exquisite through ball and his first-time shot from outside the box clattered back off the crossbar.
City forayed forward without really causing any concerns for Paul Izzo and the Adelaide defence.
Luke Brattan had an effort which bounced just in front of Izzo, but he caught the ball with conviction.
The hosts continued to break with numbers but they just lacked that final pass at times to release the likes of Mileusnić and Halloran in on goal.
The Reds maintained their high intensity approach to the second-half. Goodwin had a chance to break the deadlock but his effort was well closed down by the sliding City defender.
There were a couple of heart in the mouth moments too when the visitors attacked. A couple of crosses flashed across the face of goal, but Michael Marrone and Michael Jakobsen positioned themselves to clear the imminent danger.
Riley McGree also tested Izzo with a stunning strike from more than 25 yards out but the gloveman was equal to it, executing a spectacular save.
But as both teams toiled, nothing could separate them after 90 minutes of action, and forcing extra time.
Izzo again made a superb save at full stretch to deny Shayon Harrison in the 109th minute.
With both sides tiring and the match appearing destined for penalties, Halloran was the hero.
Goodwin was released on the wing and he found Baba Diawara. The Senegalese striker had the awareness to control the ball and then laid a pass across to Halloran which he clinically snuck past Galekovic.
It was United’s first victory over City since January 2017.
14’ | CHANCE! Goodwin plays a wonderful through ball for Halloran and his shot outside the box rattles off the bar.
72’ | SAVE! Izzo flies through the air, tipping McGree’s strike from range over the bar.
109’ | SAVE! Harrison cuts onto his left and his curling strike is brilliantly parried wide by Izzo.
112’ | CHANCE! Halloran switches the ball onto his left and his shot squeezes between the legs of Galekovic and bounces off the post.
119’ | GOAL! Halloran scores what proves to be the winning goal at the death with a brilliant finish after meeting Diawara’s square pass.
Sunday, 5 May 2019
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 – Elimination Final
Adelaide United 1 (Halloran 119’)
Melbourne City 0
Venue: Coopers Stadium