Football is a funny old game

Broich and Lustica tussle for possession.

Broich and Lustica tussle for possession.

By ANDREW DEMACK

Hyundai A-League 2013-14 Round 14

Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart BERISHA 80’) defeated by Adelaide United 2 (Jeronimo NEUMANN 20’, Jordon ELSEY 90+1’)

Saturday, 11 January 2014 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

If Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey had any doubts about the challenge facing him as he seeks to guide the favourites and league leaders towards a record-breaking third A-League championship, Saturday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium dispelled those doubts.

Brisbane Roar lost 2-1 at home to Adelaide United, a second home defeat in a row.

But the twists and turns in this game were legion.

The two teams started the game separated by seven places on the league ladder and 16 points. Adelaide were hit hard by injuries, suspensions and overseas tournaments for young Aussies. Apart from Ryan Griffiths, the Adelaide bench was almost wholly youth teamers.

Brisbane were hit by the late withdrawal of Socceroo fullback Ivan Franjic, and a couple of the youngsters being on the same trip mentioned earlier. But they were also boosted by the return from injury of Besart Berisha and Shane Stefanutto.

Stefanutto slotted straight back into his usual position on the left side of the four-man defence. But the Roar defenders — all of them, not just Stefanutto — started in a sluggish mood. The passes from the back were both too cautious but also too casual, and Adelaide, pressing high up the pitch won possession several times to create attacking opportunities.

But when it came, the opening goal was slathered with a great steaming helping of controversy.

Shane Stefanutto, after looking tentative in several exchanges with Matt Smith, was put under pressure by Jeronimo Neumann. Stefanutto’s attempted header back to Theo fell nicely for Neumann who advanced on goal.

Roar keeper Michael Theo charged out of the goal to confront Neumann, who flicked the ball past him. The momentum of Theo’s feet-first slide meant there was no chance that he wouldn’t collect the nimble Argentinian. Theo’s only chance was if he collected the ball. Which he failed to do.

So referee Milliner duly blew the whistle for the penalty, and whipped a card out of his pocket. Fortunately for Brisbane it was only a yellow card.

Jeronimo took the penalty himself. And Theo saved it himself, but the ball squirmed away from him along the goal line. With Theo frantically feeling around for the ball, Jeronimo was first to the rebound and tucked the ball in. 1-0 to the visitors.

Almost unnoticed in the early stages, with Brisbane struggling to play the ball out of defence, Diogo Ferreira was yellow carded in the 11th minute for a poor tackle.

Just before halftime, with the Roar still struggling to get a foot-hold in the game and begin to find some coherency, Ferreira was again late into a challenge. And once again, Alan Milliner showed him the yellow card.

It needed a reminder from Adelaide’s Michael Zullo that ‘ref you already gave him one yellow’, before Ferreira was shown the red card.

So Brisbane finished the half a goal down and a man down.

Surely, the home fans thought, this cannot be like the Newcastle game, where the Roar went behind early, struggled all game to make chances, and eventually conceded a second right at the death.

Surely, the visitors thought, this can be just like the Newcastle game. We can hang onto our one goal lead and Brisbane will get increasingly desperate and there might be a chance on the counter.

So with just the 10 men, Brisbane proceeded to play all over Adelaide in the second half, dominating possession as they usually do, but also starting to make shooting chances. Broich and McKay in particular were asking the Adelaide defence all kinds of tricky questions.

But it was the long-awaited introduction of Besart Berisha in the 56th minute that eventually led to the goal. Berisha was as hungry as a teenager home from a big day at school, and his appetite for work and for the ball and for a goal took him over just about every inch of grass at Suncorp Stadium.

But in the 80th minute, the combination of McKay and Broich worked an opening for Berisha, and he fired his instant snapshot past Galekovic.

The Den roared. The whole stadium dared to believe that Brisbane could rise beyond the adversity of the penalty, the nearly-saved penalty, the sending-off and all, and grab a late glorious winner.

Which is of course what happened. But it was the other team which did it.

Michael Zullo had the first scoring chance for Adelaide, with a swerving dipping free kick in the first couple of minutes of the match. He was then anonymous for most of the game, other than assisting the referee with his onerous counting duties.

But in the 91st minute, Zullo teased Hingert out wide on the left of Adelaide’s attack, and swung over a cross to the far post. In that location sub Jordan Elsey towered over makeshift leftback Matt McKay, and the Adelaide youngster powered his header back across Theo into the goal.

It was quiet pandemonium, as the Adelaide team and their whole bench celebrated, and the locals sat stunned.

After the game Mike Mulvey praised the performance of his team, and also praised Jordan Elsey and Michael Zullo’s role in the winning goal.

But the whole game was a pretty good advertisement for the local version of the world game. Both teams were prepared to pass the ball around, both were willing and committed, and there were some excellent skills on display. The points went to the visitors on this occasion, but the home team remains at the top of the A-League ladder.

Mulvey is not worried about their home form, but some of the team’s supporters are. That’s their job, as supporters, to be worried. Mulvey’s job is to keep his team mind on getting ready for the next game.

 

Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart BERISHA 80’) defeated by Adelaide United 2 (Jeronimo NEUMANN 20’, Jordon ELSEY 90+1’)

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Crowd: 17,593

 

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEO (gk), 2. Matthew SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO (19. Jack HINGERT75’), 10. HENRIQUE (7. Besart BERISHA 56’), 11. Liam MILLER, 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Diogo FERREIRA, 17. Matthew McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS

Substitutes not used: 20. Matthew ACTON (gk), 27. Brandon BORRELLO, 34. Patrick THEODORE

Yellow cards: Diogo FERREIRA 11’, 41’, Jade NORTH 15’, Michael THEO 19’, Liam MILLER 83’

Red cards:Diogo FERREIRA 41’

 

Adelaide United: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (c/gk), 2. Nigel BOOGARD, 3. Jonathan McKAIN, 7. Jeronimo NEUMANN (31. Ryan GRIFFITHS 63’), 8. ISAIS, 13. Steven LUSTICA, 14. Cameron WATSON (26. Anthony COSTA 73’), 16. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Awer MABIL (23. Jordan ELSEY 76’), 18. Michael ZULLO, 21. Tarek ELRICH

Substitutes not used: 20. Paul IZZO (gk), 32. Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS

Yellow cards: Nigel BOOGARD 52’, Cameron WATSON 62’, Jordan ELSEY 82’

Red cards: Nil

 

Pitch: 7/10 … has recovered very well

Game 8/10

Referee: Alan Milliner 6/10 … too many cards, too many whistles blown generally

 

Best players:

3 –  Matt McKay (BR)

2 – Jeronimo Neumann (AU)

1 – Michael Zullo (AU)