Adelaide United twice trailed to record a 2-2 draw against 10-man Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night.
Substitute Hiroshi Ibusuki proved the hero for the Reds, scoring the equaliser on debut.
Andrew Nabbout opened the deadlock for the visitors before George Blackwood bundled the ball home on the hour mark.
Jamie Maclaren responded to restore City’s advantage six minutes later with a clinical finish. Nuno Reis was then sent off after intervention from the VAR and a penalty was awarded.
Craig Goodwin missed the ensuing spot-kick before the Japanese striker salvaged a point for Adelaide, reacting instinctively to pounce on Tom Glover’s half parry from the corner.
WHAT WENT RIGHT. WHAT WENT WRONG.
What went right: Substitutes make an impact
The introduction of Lachlan Brook, Nestory Irankunda and Hiroshi Ibusuki certainly made a difference. Ibusuki, standing at 196cm tall, was a physical presence up front in the time he was on the field, even if he did not get a whole lot of service. The 30-year-old made an instant impact off the bench and hopefully his goal is the first of many in a Reds shirt. He may have already endeared himself to the Adelaide faithful after finding the back-of-the-net on debut.
Brook was also dynamic in midfield when he came on in his return to the Club and will only adapt further when he fully overcomes the effects of jet lag, while Irankunda showed electric pace on the wing, but lacked end product.
What went wrong: Disjointed attacking display
In a match against arguably the supreme side in the competition, Adelaide needed to be almost perfect. Unfortunately, for the most part it was uninspiring. A lack of inventiveness and incisiveness going forward meant whenever the hosts advanced forward, City were swiftly able to regroup and get their shape in order. Bernardo showed endeavour and did draw Scott Jamieson into fouling him a couple of times, but as a whole United could not consistently fashion any genuine chances and really cause City problems before Blackwood’s goal. Adelaide showed more urgency and had the momentum following the dismissal, though they still could not produce enough of a threat in open play.
What went wrong: Missed penalty
After converting a pair of penalties on New Year’s Day against Wellington Phoenix, you could be forgiven for feeling confident Craig Goodwin would score again from the spot. However, Tom Glover outsmarted his opponent, guessing the right way to his right and parrying his effort away. Fortunately, Ibusuki was able to rescue a point.
What went right: Picked up point from behind
For the second straight league game, the Reds came from behind to collect a point. It was not a fluid performance but the outing did again highlight the team’s resilience. It may be a fifth draw of the season, however one point is better than no points – particularly against the reigning champions – and it could prove decisive come the end of the campaign.
What went wrong: City front three deadly
Naturally, a lot has been made of City’s Socceroos front three and they delivered again even without being at their premium best. However, when it mattered they were lethal. Mathew Leckie delivered a pass on a platter for Andrew Nabbout to tap home from inside the six-yard box, and then in the second-half the trio combined emphatically. Leckie got his second assist after being slipped through by Nabbout and his low cut-back was rifled in by Jamie Maclaren.
Saturday, 15 January
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 10
Adelaide United 2 (Blackwood 60’, Ibusuki 84’)
Melbourne City 2 (Nabbout 24’, Maclaren 66’)
Venue: Coopers Stadium