Adelaide edge past Wanderers
Adelaide United have snatched a 1-0 victory against Hyundai A-League new boys Western Sydney Wanderers at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.
In a lacklustre affair that didn't spring to life until the final 30 minutes, the Reds claimed all three points late in the second half when Argentine import Jeronimo Neumann scored his first domestic goal for the club.
Neumann looked set to become the game's villain when his tame 58th-minute penalty was easily saved by Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic, before he made amends and buried the winner on 69 minutes.
Adelaide's second consecutive win takes them momentarily to the top of the table while Western Sydney remain in the bottom half on a solitary point.
Within seconds of the whistle being blown, Reds defender Daniel Bowles almost handed marquee star Shinji Ono - making his first competitive start for the Wanderers - his first goal in the red and white following a miscued pass, but the Japanese midfielder fired over.
Adelaide finally carved out the first real chance of the game - which had half of the 8950-strong Hindmarsh crowd on their feet believing they had taken the lead - on 16 minutes from Neumann.
A neat first touch allowed the forward to control Cassio's mid-height cross and rifle a shot into the side netting.
With the game locked and a tense atmosphere setting in, Croatian midfielder Mateo Poljak almost opened the scoring for the visitors on 32 minutes when he hit a rasping shot towards goal that dipped on Reds captain Eugene Galekovic causing the gloveman to swat at the ball as it almost trickled in.
The Wanderers again pressed forward five minutes later when the industrious Aaron Mooy broke free on the counter as the United defence backtracked and fed striker Mark Bridge, but the former Sydney FC forward dragged his effort wide as his eight-game drought without an A-League goal continues.
After a static opening to the second half, the Reds finally threatened in the 58th minute, almost breaking open the deadlock.
Reds attacker Fabio Ferreira raced down the right wing and crossed to the back post where Iain Ramsay met the ball with a diving header destined for the net until Covic aerobically denied the 24-year-old.
Adelaide soon gained momentum and again opened the away side's defence, as Ferreira raced away only for Nikolai Topor-Stanley to clumsily bring down the former Chelsea reserve man inside the area on 64 minutes.
After consultation with his linesman, referee Brenton Hayward awarded the spot-kick, but Neumann hit a tame effort to the left of Covic who easily parried away the penalty.
Neumann wouldn't be denied five minutes later when he went from zero to hero to snatch the winner with a delightful finish.
Led by Ramsay's counter-attack, United broke clear over the halfway line as Neumann and Ferreira sprinted up in support.
Ramsay held the ball intelligently before threading a neat through ball that beat the offside trap to Neumann on the right who tucked away the goal with a low chip over the on-rushing Covic into the far corner of the net.
Wanderers substitute Labinot Haliti could have snared a point three minutes from time but his free header was smothered by Galekovic.
Bet365 Man of the Match
Former Chelsea man Fabio Ferreira showed just why he once played under Jose Mourinho with a stellar performance for the Reds. Ferreira caused the Wanderers major problems down the flanks and won a penalty for the Reds, his forays into attack were brilliant.
Close to Ferreira was Iain Ramsay who delivered the assist for Adelaide’s goal, while for Wanderers FC Aaron Mooy delivered a good performance and Ante Covic did well to save a penalty.
Adelaide United 1 (Neumann 69)
Western Sydney 0