Adelaide United and Perth Glory shared the points in the west following an entertaining 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
Kusini Yengi opened the scoring in clinical fashion in the 22nd minute after some impressive wing play from Ben Halloran.
However, as half-time approached Bruno Fornaroli produced a moment of individual class, profiting from a turnover before driving forward and unleashing a stunning long-range drive which dipped beyond James Delianov.
Both sides had the ball in the back of the net after the break, but were either ruled out by the referee or VAR.
It ended honours even in the Round 1 clash with the result meaning the Reds have still not won a season opener since 2014.
What went right. What went wrong:
What went wrong: Missed chances prove costly
Adelaide’s Achilles heel last season was its inability to convert its dominance and chances into goals. Frustratingly, that theme appeared to carry over into tonight’s clash with the Reds missing a plethora of opportunities – recording 15 attempts with four of those on target. Ryan Kitto was agonisingly denied by the woodwork in the first-half and blasted over the bar from close range in the second stanza. Craig Goodwin made an almost instant impact off the bench and on another night would have scored had it not been for a splendid stop by Brad Jones. Prior to scoring, Yengi would have wanted a chance back after flashing his shot wide after Stefan Mauk pressured Jones into a turn over.
United dominated 61% of possession and were almost left to completely rue its squandered opportunities, with Perth finishing the stronger. Carl Veart shared similar sentiments post-match about their wastefulness, left to lament two points dropped.
What went right: Isaías brings balance
It was like the Spanish maestro picked up where he left off. The 34-year-old returned to the place where he had last played in the Isuzu UTE A-League before departing for Qatar in 2019 and illustrated his undeniable quality even though it was not a vintage Isaías performance. The holding midfield completed 83% of his passes and set the tempo akin to a conductor in an orchestra, while simultaneously providing balance and stability at the base of the midfield. His calmness in possession allows Stefan Mauk and Louis D’Arrigo to advance further forward as well as the centre-backs more often than not looking to play through him. He also got a hockey assist as his diagonal ball picked out Halloran on the flank in the lead up to the goal. It is fair to say Isaías will only get better.
What went wrong: Ansell subbed as a precaution
The Reds were not anticipating to make a change at half-time but that is exactly what they had to do. Nick Ansell came off on his Reds league debut due to a groin issue, but Veart said in his post match press conference it was precautionary. Ansell looked comfortable in defence, forming a new partnership with Michael Jakobsen, but Jacob Tratt entered the fray and made some key blocks in the second-half to help ensure United left with a point.
What went right: Yengi shows flashes of potential
The striker was embracing the extra responsibility of leading the line this season. So to hit the ground running, opening his account for the campaign with a well-taken finish must have been a sensational feeling. However, Yengi at times did drift in and out of the game, but not through a lack of effort. As the momentum swung in the second-half it was harder for the 22-year-old to get regular touches on the ball as was the case in the first 45 – ending the contest with 13 passes. With more game time and experience, the talisman will continue to improve not just his finishing, but general all-round and hold up play. Nonetheless, an encouraging display and Reds fans will certainly be excited to watch his raw ability, enthusiasm and swag on the pitch.
Saturday, 20 November
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Round 1
Perth Glory 1 (Fornaroli 40’)
Adelaide United 1 (Yengi 22’)
Venue: HBF Park