Adelaide United FC hs rocketed to the top of Group E after downing the Pohang Steelers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
A dramatic late winner from striker Bruce Djite has rocketed Adelaide United FC clear to the top of Group E as the Reds downed the Pohang Steelers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium in Match Day 4 of the AFC Champions League.
Djite-s 90th minute header sent the Reds three points clear of Pohang on the table and reversed the result from a fortnight ago when the Steelers edged United out by the same score line in South Korea.
While Djite will be remembered as the goal scoring hero, captain Eugene Galekovic-s contribution was just as significant. Determined to make amends for his mistake in Pohang which gave the Steelers victory back on April 3, Galekovic kept true to his word as he produced a flawless display between the posts, which included a freakish reflex save in the first half.
Adelaide United-s Head Coach for the ACL, Luciano Trani, described it as an ‘uplifting performance- and it is one that edges the Reds closer to dreaming of a place in the Round of 16.
With Sergio van Dijk a late withdrawal from taking his place on the bench due to a hamstring problem, the Reds almost stunned their K-League opponents inside the opening 90 seconds when Iain Ramsay whipped in a ball from the left, only to see it go agonisingly across the goal face as Djite could not get on the end of it.
Byung Jun then dissected the Reds- central defensive pair without reward before Djite took aim with a powerful left footed drive that stung the gloves of Hwa Yong, all of this coming inside the opening seven minutes.
The decisive moment of the first half then came in the 11th minute as a Byung header seemed destined to find the back of the net after he found himself in acres of space on the edge of United-s six yard box, but Galekovic pulled off a phenomenal save low down to his right to deny the Pohang striker.
The save seemed to lift the Reds, who were enjoying a healthier amount of possession than they did at the Steelyard a fortnight ago, however they were finding it difficult to make any serious inroads in a first half largely devoid of much goalmouth action.
All of that changed at the start of the second half with Derek Asamoah going close to breaking the deadlock only to find Galekovic at his best again, Iainis Zicu then blazing the follow up over the bar.
Less than a minute later it was the Reds- turn as Evan Kostopoulos used his pace to get the better of two defenders down the left before a delivering a ball to the far post which found Ramsay, Pohang keeper Hwa Yong somehow managing to block the winger-s close range shot.
Zenon Caravella flashed an attempt just over the bar from a corner in the 68th minute and as the game wore on, the Reds looked to stretch a tiring Pohang outfit.
Kostopoulos made way for fellow youngster Teeboy Kamara, who was making just his second appearance, with six minutes left and just as the game appeared to be ending in a stalemate, a touch of creative flair and a first class finish in the 90th minute had the home crowd in full voice.
Ramsay lobbed a clever ball into the path of an overlapping Cassio, the Brazilian doing sublimely to send in a cross with the ball in mid air, and despite tight marking from Zoran Rendulic, Djite managed to get a telling touch on a glancing header that flew into the far top corner of the net.
Suddenly at the death the Reds had taken a considerable step closer to progressing through to the Round of 16.
Adelaide United is back at Hindmarsh again in a fortnight for the visit of Bunyodkor on May 2.
Adelaide United FC 1 (Djite 90-)
Pohang Steelers 0
Referee: Tan Hai (China)
Crowd: 7,659 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Osama MALIK, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 21.Francisco USUCAR (18.Fabian BARBIERO 79-), 23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS (24.Teeboy KAMARA 84-)
Substitutes not used: 12.Antony GOLEC, 14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Jacob MELLING, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 22.Iain FYFE
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Pohang Steelers line-up: 1.HWA YONG (gk), 5.WON JAE, 7.Zoran RENDULIC, 9.JI SOO (29.LEE MYUNG-JOO 67-), 10.Derek ASAMOAH, 13.WON IL, 16.KIM JIN-RYONG (26.CHAN HO 74-), 20.HYUNG MIN (c), 22.BYUNG JUN (6.SHIN JIN-HO 83-), 24.DAE HO, 27.Iainis ZICU
Substitutes not used: 12.GYO CHOONG (gk), 15.JUNG HONG-YOUN, 30.KIM CHAN-HEUI, 34.WEON IL
Yellow Cards: Won Il 36-, Ji Soo 63-, Hyung Min 83-
Red Cards: Nil