Graham Arnold’s injury-hit side went down for the second consecutive home game, this time at the hands of Josep Gombau’s South Australian outfit.
Following a scrappy first half the Reds showed all their class after the break and goals from Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil sealed a late Christmas present for Josep Gombau’s side.
The Reds move up to second – at least until Melbourne Victory’s clash with Newcastle Jets on Saturday – while the Sky Blues are reeling with just one win from their last eight matches.
0-1 Djite (67′) – Michael Marrone’s incisive pass in behind saw Marcelo Carrusca spring the offside trap and receive the ball just inside the Sky Blues’ box. The Argentine went around the advancing Vedran Janjetovic but was forced wide, squaring the ball into the middle where Sydney defender Sebastian Ryall was there to clear away, only for the ball to ricochet off Djite and rebound back into the net.
0-2 Sanchez (81’) – Awer Mabil ran at a retreating Sydney defence, finding Sanchez, who released Jeggo down the right with an exquisite first-time pass. Jeggo steadied before swinging in a pinpoint cross to where Sanchez had made a run, the Spaniard looping a classy header into the far corner, giving a despairing Janjetovic no chance.
0-3 Mabil (90+1’) – Jeggo again caught the Sydney defence square, playing a superb reverse ball to pick out Sergio Cirio who unselfishly squared the ball to an unmarked Mabil who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net.
A neat move by Sydney around the visitors’ box 10 minutes before the break finished with Marc Janko being sent through only to be felled by a mis-timed challenge by Tarek Elrich just outside the box. Referee Jared Gillett, who had already dished out four yellow cards, opted to show Elrich the same colour – and not a red – despite the Adelaide defender being the last man. The decision infuriated Janko and allowed the Reds to regroup and come out after the break to snatch a vital victory.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
A testy and scrappy contest may looked comfortable on the scoreboard but the fact there was more yellow cards (seven) than shots on target (six) tells the story of a stop-start match. But Adelaide has now gone five games unbeaten against Sydney FC, who have now failed to win at home for three games in succession. The last time they did that was in February this year and it was followed by a nine game unbeaten run at the Allianz Stadium.
In a first half devoid of any great quality or goal-scoring chances, Bernie Ibini gave fans a glimpse of his undoubted talent. The Socceroos attacker produced a clever turn to wriggle free of two markers in the middle of the park, before cutting inside of Isaias with a nice piece of skill. Ibini then released Brosque down the left but instead of sitting back and admitting his good play, the 22-year-old stayed in support and received the ball back on the edge of the box but unfortunately couldn’t get the type of shot on target the impressive move deserved.
After setting up Adelaide’s opening goal, Carrusca hit the turf seconds later and had to be replaced with what looked like a hamstring or groin injury. Not good news for the Reds with another two games in quick succession before the Asian Cup break.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Sydney’s tactic to not press the Reds defence too high meant a crowded midfield, the visitors finding it hard to get the ball into playmakers Marcelo Carrusca and James Jeggo. They resorted to mostly long, diagonal passes which Sydney’s back four managed to deal with quite comfortably on most occasions. Adelaide need to find a better ‘Plan B’ when they can’t get their more skilful players on the ball. It was something they managed to do better after the break and they got the rewards.
THE FINAL WORD
Sydney will be disappointed not to have claimed at least a point but might feel better about getting away from home to take on champions Brisbane next Tuesday. Adelaide’s confidence will have returned following a mini-dip in the league and they round out 2014 with a home clash against Wellington Phoenix on New Year’s Eve.