Etihad Stadium 10.12.11
By CHRIS BANKS.
A late strike from Fabian Barbiero salvaged a draw for Adelaide United against Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening, relieving some pressure on boss Rini Coolen.
Both teams went into the match under pressure, out of form and in need of a lift.
This match, between two teams that are often described as holding the A-League’s fiercest rivalry, seemed to provide the ideal tonic.
Marquee-man Harry Kewell, notably quiet when the two teams met earlier this season, signalled his intent from the first minute.
With barely 60 seconds on the clock, the former Liverpool man beat the United offside-trap to put himself clean through on-goal.
The midfielder’s shot went straight to United goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, but Kewell’s first attempt set the tone for what would be a good performance from the soccer veteran.
Kewell had another chance in the 25th minute when he connected with Matthew Foshcini’s cross, but failed to hit the target with his header.
Five minutes later, tempers began to boil over with Kewell at the centre of the melee.
A clash with Reds midfielder Zenon Caravella prompted an embarrassing scene of pushing and shoving.
Ever the danger-man, Kewell came close to breaking the deadlock moments before half time.
With Galekovic struggling to make ground, Kewell attempted an audacious thirty-yard lob, only to see his effort superbly saved by the United keeper.
Adelaide’s best chance came mid-way through the first period when Barbiero blazed over the crossbar after picking up a scuffed Caravella shot.
United began the second half looking comfortable when disaster struck; Victory scored a fantastic goal, the Reds defence looking half asleep.
Archie Thompson found space in the Adelaide six-yard box and, with marker John McKain struggling, headed in the ball to put the hosts ahead.
The goal prompted a period of domination for the home side, with Kewell almost doubling Victory’s tally with a long-range effort that fizzed just wide.
United’s Galekovic was called into action to deny Archie Thompson a second.
The Reds stopper produced a good save to keep out a fine, curling strike.
However, Melbourne looked comfortable for the rest of the game and it took a simple defensive error to give the visitors a way back into the game.
Sergio Van Dijk laid the ball off to Fabian Barbiero who, completely unmarked on the edge of the Victory box, drove the ball into Ante Covic’s goal.
The strike rescued a point for the Reds who are still without a win since mid-November.
Post-match, Rini Coolen was keen to focus on the positives but admitted there was still work to be done.
“From my point of view it was a good second half for both teams; some good football for us and I’m happy with that, with the effort from my boys,” Coolen said.
“We still have to improve a lot of things, but it’s a good step and a good feeling for the boys.”
Meanwhile, Coolen’s counterpart Mehmet Durakovic felt his side deserved more than just a share of the points.
“Disappointing,” Durakovic said. “Having created so many chances, played them off the park, totally dominated possession… they had a shot, they scored from a shot.”
“That’s football, you know.”