Reds complete ACL fightback in six-goal thriller


Adelaide United instantaneously came from behind twice to salvage a deserved 3-3 draw against Jeju United in the AFC Champions League at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.

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Baba Diawara opened the scoring from the spot, before Sergio Cirio and then Mark Ochieng restored parity on two separate occasions to earn a point for United.

Frederic Mendy cancelled out Diawara’s opener, before Marcelo Toscano and Kwon Soon-hyung twice pulled the visitors ahead, but Adelaide’s resolve would become palpable to round out a frenetic six-goal second stanza. 

Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, made two alterations to the starting XI which lost to Jiangsu Suning on matchday two. Ben Garuccio replaced the suspended Michael Marrone, while gloveman and captain Eugene Galekovic returned from injury at the expense of Daniel Margush.

Adelaide showed excellent intent early, knowing the magnitude of the clash as a defeat would have diminished the Reds’ aspirations of qualifying for the knockout stage.

Nikola Mileusnic was dynamic during the first-half and registered the opening shot of the match with a fizzing one-on-one effort just wide of the target.

Not long after Diawara came the closest to breaking the deadlock. Cirio played a lovely chipped pass to the Senegalese forward, whose angled shot trickled agonisingly past the upright.

As the match ebbed and flowed, Adelaide controlled proceedings, dominating possession and largely thwarted several Jeju incursions into the box before any genuine threat arose.  

Jeju could only produce speculative attempts from distance which never really troubled Galekovic, as both sides entered the half-time interval goalless.

The second-half saw Adelaide continue to probe and they would be rewarded for their endeavours albeit slightly fortuitously. The referee awarded a penalty after he adjudged Jordan O’Doherty’s venomous strike had been handled from close proximity inside the area.

Diawara stepped up to clinically dispatch the spot-kick to net his maiden goal for the Club on 51 minutes.

In search of an equaliser, the Korean outfit brought on striker Mendy and he made an instant impact in the 61st minute. The substitute received the ball with his back to goal, before a quick swivel of the hips saw him find space to fire past Galekovic with the assistance of the upright.

That equaliser gave the K League leaders the impetus and 10 minutes later they would grab the advantage in stunning fashion, courtesy of a Toscano’s wonder strike. The Brazilian received the ball after a clever run from Hwang Il-su, before shooting a dipping effort into the top corner.

Amor’s troops replied a minute later to make it 2-2, as Cirio expertly headed home Garuccio’s delicious cross to score his first goal in over a year.

Jeju struck back on 84 minutes through a thunderous low drive from Soon-hyung as he capitalised on the loose ball 22-yards out.

But fate would be repeated as United again levelled the encounter within a minute of trailing. Jordan O’Doherty’s curling shot smashed the top of the post with the rebound falling to Kim Jae-sung who found Ochieng.

The 20-year-old placed his bending effort into the far corner and past the outstretched Jeju goalkeeper, keeping alive the Reds’ slim chances of passing the group, due to Jiangsu Suning’s win over Gamba Osaka.

The result extends Adelaide’s unbeaten home record against South Korean opposition in the Asian Champions League to six matches.

Following the game, Amor, praised his team’s persistence and character after twice replying in quick succession to muster a share of the spoils.

“The players showed this character and worked a lot,” Amor said.

“It was a difficult game we had the control in a lot of moments.

“But the result is one point and we need more points, but the players worked very well.”

Match details: 
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
AFC Champions League Group H – Matchday Three
Adelaide United 3 (Diawara 51’ Cirio 72’ Ochieng 85’)
Jeju United 3 (Mendy 61’ Toscano 71’ Soon-hyung 84’)
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium
Attendance: 3,539