Adelaide United FC has guaranteed its place in the Round of 16 following a nil-all draw with Bunyodkor at Hindmarsh.
Adelaide United FC has guaranteed its place in the AFC Champions League Round of 16 following a nil-all draw with Uzbek league champions Bunyodkor at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.
The result sees the Reds maintain their spot at the top of Group E and move to ten points, one ahead of the Pohang Steelers who defeated Gamba Osaka 2-0 in the other Group E fixture in South Korea.
While Adelaide United ensured progression past the Group Stage for an unprecedented third time from four starts for an Australian club in the competition, the one question left to be answered is whether the Reds will finish first or second in the group which will determine if they host a knockout Round of 16 encounter at Hindmarsh.
Although the Reds did not manage to wrap up top spot from the game, another committed, well organised performance and third clean sheet at home was a sense of ‘job done- for Assistant Coach Luciano Trani.
“We-ve qualified for the second round of the AFC Champions League so the objective was pretty much achieved tonight which is a good thing,” Trani said.
“It-s a great achievement and I look at it this way – we haven-t failed, in fact it has been a success.”
“Some tournaments around the world, clubs will always try to do everything they can to win every trophy but sometimes it-s too difficult.”
“We-re in this particular competition now that we find ourselves in the top 16 clubs in Asia and that-s a huge benefit to the club. The branding of Adelaide United continues in Asia and that-s a reputation that will hold for years to come.”
In a cagey contest that produced few guilt edged chances, the Reds again held their own against a powerhouse of Asian football as they created enough opportunities to score themselves while not allowing Bunyodkor to find a way through their defences.
“They (Bunyodkor) made it very difficult and when they-ve got a number of players who are all capable of creating openings and are comfortable on the ball, they are always going to give you a huge challenge, but we were disciplined at the back and also in midfield,” Trani said.
“It was one of those games where they were very good and we had to be really on our game to make sure that we didn-t get ourselves punished in any way.”
In an even first half, the Reds- first real threat on the Bunyodkor goal came when Bruce Djite produced a superb ball to slice open the Uzbek team-s defence and find Iain Ramsay, but the speedster could not direct his shot on target.
Dario Vidosic then forced a save out of Bunyodkor keeper Ignatiy Nesterov, the visitors- best early chances coming from an off target David Carney free kick and curling effort from captain Victor Karpenko that Eugene Galekovic comfortably dealt with.
On 21 minutes United went agonisingly close to the opener when a well worked move allowed Daniel Mullen time to measure a cross in from the right that Nesterov could only get a tentative glove to, and with the Bunyodkor keeper out of position, Ramsay sent the ball towards goal only to see it cleared inches from the line.
Nine minutes into the second half Reds Coach John Kosmina was forced to make a change, Iain Fyfe making his first appearance in the competition in place of Osama Malik, who was being troubled by a knee problem that was triggered after he went in for a tackle.
For a period Bunyodkor started to get on top and control the tempo of the game, Galekovic called into action a couple of times to keep out some venomous long range efforts.
Fyfe then missed a great chance to break the deadlock in the 66th minute when Vidosic found him unmarked from a free kick, the defender-s header going straight at Nesterov.
Kamoliddin Murzoev then nearly caught the Reds on the hop but Nigel Boogaard and the defence diffused the chance.
Kosmina went to his bench again as Even Kostopoulos replaced Zenon Caravella with 15 minutes to go, the urgency of both sides building.
Cassio pulled the trigger from outside the penalty area that seemed to surprise Nesterov as he decided to double fist the ball away before Fyfe gave him an even greater scare as he latched onto a first time volley that bounced awkwardly in front of the Bunyodkor keeper.
The injection of energetic 15 year old Teeboy Kamara in the dying stages also could not bring about a dramatic late winner for the Reds as they were made to settle for a point and a valuable one at that.
The final match day of the Group Stage has the Reds heading over to Japan to take on Gamba Osaka, while Pohang meets Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan, the results of both games to decide if Adelaide United finishes top and also which club will join them in the do-or-die Round of 16 on May 29.
The knockout Round of 16 will see the winner of Group E host the runner-up of Group G and vice-versa.
Adelaide United FC 0
Referee: Liu Kwok Man (Hong Kong)
Crowd: 7,794 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Osama MALIK (22.Iain FYFE 54-), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA (23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS 73-), 10.Dario VIDOSIC (24.Teeboy KAMARA 84-), 11.Bruce DJITE, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO
Substitutes not used: 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 12.Antony GOLEC, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR
Yellow Cards: Cassio 15-, Kostopoulos 87-
Red Cards: Nil
Bunyodkor line-up: 1.Ignatiy NESTEROV (gk), 2.Akmal SHORAKHMEDOV, 4.Hayrulla KARIMOV, 6.Anvar GAFUROV, 7.David CARNEY (10.Shavkat SALOMOV 86-), 8.Jovlon IBROKHIMOV, 11.Emil KENZHISSARIYEV, 13.Lutfulla TURAEV, 17.Kamoliddin MURZOEV (20.Anvarjon SOLIEV 89-), 22.Victor KARPENKO (c), 33.Jan KOZAK (14.Alibobo RAKHMATULLAEV 84-)
Substitutes not used: 18.Slavoljub DJORDJEVIC, 24.Bahodir PARDAEV, 28.Ruslan MELZIDDINOV, 45.Akbar TURAEV (gk)
Yellow Cards: Murzoev 64-, Shorakhmedov 71-
Red Cards: Nil