A Eugene Galekovic inspired Adelaide United FC is through to the Quarter Finals after toppling Nagoya Grampus 1-0 in a pulsating Round of 16 showdown at Hindmarsh Stadium.
A Eugene Galekovic inspired Adelaide United FC is through to the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals after ousting Japanese powerhouse Nagoya Grampus 1-0 in a pulsating Round of 16 showdown at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The Reds- passage through to the last eight of the prestigious club competition came courtesy of a 42nd minute goal from Jon McKain, and while the central defender-s winner may ultimately be what made the difference in terms of the score line, it was Galekovic-s performance between the posts that was just as, if not more, influential to the result.
The United captain reeled off a number of stunning saves to keep Nagoya scoreless, the shut out giving Galekovic his fourth clean sheet from seven matches but more importantly helping send the Reds into the Quarter Finals in September.
While Galekovic may have again proved his quality on yet another magical Asian night at Hindmarsh, every player that took the field in a red shirt stood up and did their bit, the performance indicative of how Adelaide United has reached this stage of the competition and arguably punched above its weight against far wealthier, more resourced clubs.
Early on in the knockout encounter Dario Vidosic was proving Nagoya coach Dragan Stoijkovic-s pre match prediction that the Reds- number ten would be the player to stop correct as he flashed a free kick just over the bar inside the opening minute before his delightful diagonal ball five minutes later opened the door for Iain Ramsay who could not direct his seffort on target.
A fine interchange of passes saw Nagoya open up the Reds- defence soon after but Keiji Tamada-s final ball to Josh Kennedy was well diffused by McKain.
The Japanese side was beginning to find its groove as the half progressed and in the 33rd minute they would have gone ahead if not for a save out of the top drawer from Galekovic as he somehow lunged an outstretched left hand at a Kennedy header to turn the ball wide of the post when the ball was seemingly passed him and on its way into the back of the net. It was a stunning save to keep the Reds on level terms.
Kennedy then became provider for Tamada to blaze over the bar, United just managing to hold on.
Then in the 42nd minute came the home side-s breakthrough and again it came about from a well orchestrated set piece. Vidosic-s corner was headed down by Nigel Boogaard and McKain was at the far post, his attempt to connect with the ball seeing it have enough momentum off his shin to beat Nagoya keeper Seigo Narazaki.
The game lifted a gear after the break, Boogaard producing a timely block to foil Kennedy before a well constructed Reds build up resulted in Djite weaving his way through the penalty area only for Nagoya-s defence to do enough to extinguish the chance.
Vidosic then almost caught Narazaki napping with the ball at his feet as the tempo continued to rise, United looking to inflict a killer blow while Nagoya needed to equalise.
Galekovic was then at it again as he kept out a Takahiro Maukawa header with a quality reflex save in the 63rd minute to keep the home side-s nose in front.
Sergio van Dijk was introduced for Zenon Caravella with 15 minutes to go as Nagoya continued to test United-s defence with aerial attacks come from both wings, but as they has done for much of the competition, the Reds refused to crack.
The final ten minutes was full of nervous tension as Nagoya-s cause became more desperate. But with this the game opened up at both ends and Fabian Barbiero could have shut the gate on Nagoya when he had just the keeper to beat from 12 metres but he fired over.
Three minutes from time van Dijk then went inches from putting an exclamation mark on the result as he hammered the crossbar with a venomous dipping shot before the home crowd was made to hold their breath once more as Galekovic watched a Nagoya shot cannon off his left post and away from danger in injury time.
The full time whistle rekindled scenes of 2008 when the Reds won their home legs in the Quarter and Semi Finals, and now after reaching the last eight in 2012, they once again dare to dream.
Adelaide United FC 1 (McKain 42-)
Nagoya Grampus 0
Referee: Abdul Malik (Singapore)
Crowd: 9,758 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA (9.Sergio VAN DIJK 68-), 10.Dario VIDOSIC (23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS 82-), 11.Bruce DJITE (24.Teeboy KAMARA 88-), 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 22.Iain FYFE
Substitutes not used: 12.Antony GOLEC, 14.Cameron WATSON, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR
Yellow Cards: Caravella 54-
Red Cards: Nil
Nagoya Grampus line-up: 1.Seigo NARAZAKI (gk) (c), 4.Markus TULIO TANAKA, 5.Takahiro MAUKAWA, 6.Shoebi ABE, 8.Jungo FUJIMOTO, 10.Yoshizumi OGAWA, 11.Keiji TAMADA (25.Mu KANAZAKI 46-), 16.Josh KENNEDY, 18.Kensuke NAGAI (35.Teruki TANAKA 72-), 22.DANIEL, 28.Taishi TAGUCHI (32.Hayuma TANAKA 68-)
Substitutes not used: 17.Yuki MAKI, 23.Yosuke ISHIBITSU, 38.ALEX, 50.Yoshinari TAKAGI (gk)
Yellow Cards: Daniel 73-
Red Cards: Nil