Adelaide wins five-goal thriller

Adelaide United has escaped from an embarrassing loss against Sanfrecce Hiroshima to record a thrilling 3-2 win on match day three of the AFC Champions League and keep its undefeated start to the competition intact.

Adelaide United has escaped from an embarrassing loss against Sanfrecce Hiroshima to record a thrilling 3-2 win on match day three of the AFC Champions League and keep its undefeated start to the competition intact.

With the Reds leading 1-0 early in the first half, Sanfrecce had its star defender Ilian Stoyanov given his marching orders for a professional foul when he pulled down Matthew Leckie on the half-hour.

Adelaide endured some tense moments late in the game and came back from 2-1 down to seal a memorable win.

United was content to sit back early and let its opponents play it out from the back, ready to pounce on any sloppy defending and loose passing.

After five minutes Travis Dodd swooped on Kazu’s poor control before starting off on a 20m run.

Kazu got back in time to avert any danger and sent the ball out for a corner.

Mullen’s corner was cleared, but after some strong work by Marcos Flores , Mullen got a second chance to whip the ball in.

His cross was met by the head of Iain Fyfe but the defender’s header lacked any real power and failed to trouble Nishikawa in the Sanfrecce goal.

Sanfrecce was living dangerously, sitting back and playing long, hopeful balls forward while the Reds attacked the visitor’s goal.

On 11 minutes, Dodd gave United the lead with a classy, glancing header. Flores was again involved showcasing his sublime passing game.

A quick swivel of the hips from the Argentine gave him a metre on his opponent and his pinpoint cross was met by the head of Dodd at the near post.

Sanfrecce offered little in the way of resistance as the Reds continued to pepper the J-League squad’s goal.

Captain Sato Hisato appeared the only threat for the visitors but United’s defence restricted the diminutive striker to long-range efforts which failed to trouble keeper Eugene Galekovic.

The Purple Archers’ best chance came after 25 minutes when Stoyanov threaded a sweet pass for Sato who turned and shot from eight metres.

The close-range effort was straight at Galekovic who did well to hold it.

While the Reds applied constant pressure and harassment in the midfield, Flores’ impact grew as he conducted the flow of the game.

Lucas Pantelis was searching for a goal but his shooting was off target.

Leckie also had a couple of chances but saw his shots saved, while Dodd continued to impose himself and get into scoring positions.

Just after the half-hour mark, the game was turned on its head when Sanfrecce’s best player for the opening 30 minutes, Stoyanov was shown a straight red.

The Bulgarian was shown a clean set of heels by Leckie and brought him down as the last man.

United started the second half in much the same vein but failed to capitalise on the one-goal lead.

Ten minutes after the restart the 10 men of Sanfrecce clawed their way back into the contest and snatched an equaliser.

Robert Cornthwaite’s headed clearance sat up nicely for Kazu who cracked it first time from the edge of the area. The left-footed strike flew into the bottom corner giving Galekovic no chance.

The goal gave the visitors confidence and they enjoyed a purple patch. Sato continued to look lively as Sanfrecce showed no signs of a player disadvantage.

Pantelis came close again on the hour mark after he was teed up by Dodd. The midfielder’s right-boot bullet from 20m just whizzed over the bar.

The visitors kept pushing and had the Reds’ midfield at sixes and sevens with Flores disappearing from the match and he took United’s creative spark with him.

The Reds’ bench rang in the changes with Fabian Barbiero and Cassio coming on to replace Flores and Pantelis.

On 75 minutes Sanfrecce took a well-deserved lead. Koji flew in a cross from the right and substitute Issei’s flicked header beat Galekovic at the far post.

Three minutes later United stole an equaliser with Cornthwaite converting a Scott Jamieson corner.

The towering defender headed past an out-rushing Nishikawa who was caught in no-man’s land.

With the scores locked at 2-2 Sanfrecce continued to attack before Cassio dealt the knock-out punch.

On 82 minutes the substitute’s free-kick from 30m took a wicked deflection with Nishikawa already diving to cover the other post.

The Reds hung on despite some anxious final moments with Sanfrecce unlucky not to come away with a point.

Adelaide United 3 (Dodd 11, Cornthwaite 78, Cassio 82)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 (Kazu 54, Issei 75)