Melbourne Victory 4 Adelaide United 3
Victory's Scott Galloway is challenged by Sergio Cirio. Photo: Getty Images
A second-half blunder by Adelaide skipper and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and a late clincher from substitute Kosta Barbarouses paved the way for Melbourne Victory, which had twice come from behind, to leapfrog the South Australians on the A-League table with a dramatic 4-3 win in front of 18,341 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
The visitors had led 1-0 and 2-1 earlier in the game only to be clawed back on both occasions, even though Victory had lost its main creative agent, Tom Rogic, to injury, early in the second half. Not even a hat-trick from Spanish striker Sergio Cirio could prevent Adelaide going home empty-handed following this see-sawing seven-goal thriller. With the scores locked at 2-2 midway through the second half neither side was ready to settle for a draw as both looked to secure third spot on the table. While both coaches - Victory's Kevin Muscat and Adelaide's Josep Gombau - would have chewed their fingernails to the bone, the crowd was treated to a rip-roaring finale with three goals in the last 25 minutes and a series of chances at either end which could have changed the complexion of the game had they been taken.
The critical moment came in the 66th minute when Victory forward James Troisi hit a long pass through the centre for Archie Thompson.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Finkler (15min, 56min), Thompson (66min), Barbarouses (75min)||Goals||Cirio (3min, 45min, 83min)|
Galekovic looked sure to win the race as he charged out of his goal. But somehow he contorted his body, missed the ball and allowed Thompson to run on and pass into an unguarded net. Prior to that Cirio, with two first-half goals for the Reds and Gui Finkler, with a brace for Melbourne, had taken centre stage.
But it was to be Barbarouses, who replaced Rogic in the 50th minute when the latter limped off with a foot injury after colliding with his teammate Leigh Broxham, who would have the final say with a 75th-minute goal that gave Victory a critical two-goal break.
The Kiwi international held the ball up when played through as he waited for support, in the shape of Finkler, to arrive.
The Brazilian then slipped a pass through to Troisi, who beat Galekovic in a tight space inside the six yard box before sliding a pass across the face of goal for Barbarouses to tap in from close range.
Cirio got his hat-trick with seven minutes remaining after Victory defender Pablo Contreras slipped as he tried to clear a Fabio Ferreira cross, but the host held out in a nervous finale to what was a hugely entertaining and important match for both teams who went into the game level on 27 points but with the Reds ahead on goal difference. Victory's win lifts it to clear third spot on 30 points, and with Sydney's victory in Newcastle earlier in the night, Adelaide (27 points) drops to fifth, a point behind the Sky Blues.
Victory suffered a major blow four minutes into the second half when Rogic collided with Broxham and hurt his foot. The Celtic man, who has joined Victory on loan to get regular game time ahead of the World Cup, limped off and went straight to the dressing room for treatment.