Adelaide United FC has played out a 2-2 draw with Sydney FC in a see-sawing affair at Coopers Stadium.
The visitors managed to draw first blood early through Ranko Despotovic when he met a Richard Garcia cross slid it passed Eugene Galekovic.
Stung into action, the Reds’ reply came in the 24th minute when a sustained period of possession domination saw Lustica send a cross to the far post, Ferreira volleying the ball onto the inside of the upright and Vedran Janjetovic could not keep it out.
Either side of the equaliser the Reds were dealt a double blow when first Bruce Djite and then Sergio Cirio suffered game ending injuries, meaning the introduction of youngsters Awer Mabil and Youth Team striker Anthony Costa for his Hyundai A-League debut.
Despite marginally controlling the game, Adelaide United was lucky to narrowly escape a long range bullet from Nikola Petkovic which cannoned off the cross bar late in the half. As a result, the teams headed to the break all square.
The Sky Blues had the best chance after the restart when Despotovic appeared through for a one-on-one clash with Galekovic, this was until Isaias provided an immense effort to spoil the striker’s efforts.
The game then took a twist in the 68th minute when Nicky Carle was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence and the Reds suddenly had a numerical advantage.
Less than five minutes later the Reds were ahead when Costa was adjudged to have been pulled down by Matthew Jurman pulled in the penalty area. Jake Barker-Daish stepped up and scored form the spot to make it 2-1.
Alessandro Del Piero’s night came to an end in the 77th minute when he was replaced by Terry McFlynn, the Italian legend getting a standing ovation from the 15,347 in attendance, the former Juventus great all class as he acknowledged the crowd on his first game in Adelaide.
Regardless of trailing on the scoreboard and in players on the pitch, Sydney FC then capitalised on a set-piece against the run of play in the 82nd minute when substitute Corey Gameiro glanced a well directed header out of Galekovic’s reach and into the net.
Subsequently, the encounter between the two sides began to open up as both sides threatened to claim all three points, forcing the best from each both goalkeepers.
Regardless of the intense finish, the score remained at 2-2 at the final whistle, providing each side with a hard-earned point. The result leaves Adelaide United unbeaten in its past four games but still five points behind the Sky Blues on the table.
Going into the game without Argentine duo Marcelo Carrusca and Jeronimo, and then to lose Djite and Cirio in the opening half an hour, Coach Josep Gombau was understandably complimentary of his team’s effort.
“I’m happy with the team but not happy with the result,” Gombau said.
“I’m happy with the team because with all of the difficulties that we had this week and in the game losing two players that are important and are in our attack in the first 25 minutes.”
“We played with young players and they did very well.”
“I am unhappy with the result because after 80 minutes we are winning 2-1 and we need to try to win the game.”
“My players brought 100 per cent. We are working and building players, two local boys played today and we had a chance to win the game.
“I am satisfied but in the end I want to win and when you have the game close and think you could have won, you’re upset.”
Djite and Cirio’s injuries will be assessed in the coming days, while on a negative note, defender Osama Malik will miss next week’s game against Brisbane Roar after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Adelaide United FC 2 (Ferreira 24’, Barker-Daish 67’)
Sydney FC 2 (Despotovic 8’, Gameiro 82’)
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Crowd: 15,347 @ Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Osama MALIK, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO (26.Anthony COSTA 31’), 11.Bruce DJITE (17.Awer MABIL 20’), 13.Steven LUSTICA, 18.Michael ZULLO, 19.Jake BARKER-DAISH, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Fabio FERREIRA (16.Daniel BOWLES 79’)
Substitutes not used: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 20.Paul IZZO (GK)
Yellow Cards: Zullo 41’, Malik 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney FC starting line-up: 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 3.Marc WARREN (7.Brett EMERTON 69’), 4.Ranko DESPOTOVIC, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Pedj BOJIC, 10.Alessandro DEL PIERO (c) (15.Terry MCFLYNN 77’), 11.Richard GARCIA (9.Corey GAMEIRO 66’), 19.Nicky CARLE, 22.Ali ABBAS, 24.Hagi GLIGOR
Substitutes not used: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 28.Matt THOMPSON
Yellow Cards: Carle 45’/68’, Bojic 62’
Red Cards: Carle 68’