Adelaide hand Wellington second Five-Goal hiding

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League 2013/14, Round 21
Thursday 27 February, 2014 – Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 5
(Jeronimo Neumann 24′, 62′, Sergio Cirio 29′, Fabio Ferreira 60′, Awer Mabil 90′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Kenny Cunningham 25′)

Adelaide United handed Wellington Phoenix their second five-goal thumping in three games on February 27, as the home team stormed to a 5-1 triumph in front of 8,596 fans at Coopers Stadium.

United tore into the task at hand straight from the kick-off, and within 138 seconds of same, forced Glen Moss to produce an outstanding reflex save with his leg to deny Jeronimo Neumann’s header, after he had instigated a move which also featured Bruce Djite and a superbly flighted cross from Fabio Ferreira.

Wellington appeared to have weathered the storm when Carlos Hernandez unleashed a wickedly curling twenty-five yarder which rattled Eugene Galekovic’s near post, but United stormed straight downfield in response, Neumann scything inside before unleashing a twenty yard grasscutter straight at Moss.

The newly named New Zealand captain was in action again in the eleventh minute, plunging to his right to keep out Isaias Sanchez’s twenty-five yarder, the midfielder having worked a one-two with Neumann before letting fly.

Adelaide continued to press, Tarek Elrich and Sanchez both chancing their arm from distance in the next seven minutes before a vital block by Ben Sigmund denied Ferreira, after he had swept past two opponents on receipt of an Elrich pass.

Straight away, Wellington launched a counter-attack, with Galekovic smothering Stein Huysegems’ shot on the run as the visitors sought to take the lead very much against the run of play.

That this was destined to be a bad night at the office for Wellington was confirmed in the 23rd minute, as Adelaide broke the deadlock in style. Michael Zullo surged out of defence – Tyler Boyd watched him race on by – before sliding a pass into Neumann’s stride.

He cut in off the left flank before lashing a twenty yard snorter over the head of Moss and into the top far corner of the net – 1-0 Adelaide, a goal their attacking play richly merited.

After Sanchez and Ferreira had worked a one-two just outside the area which culminated in the former dragging a twenty-yarder past the far post, Adelaide doubled their advantage in the 28th minute.

Ferreira – a constant menace on the right throughout proceedings – was picked out by Elrich with a pass, and produced a first-time pullback into the stride of Sergio Cirio, whose off-the-ball movement had earned him the freedom of Wellington’s penalty area, time enough in which to pick his spot, which he duly did – 2-0.

Wellington offered little in response to this double blow, and only just managed to prevent Cirio from netting his second of the game six minutes later, Zullo and Neumann having combined to create the opening.

On the stroke of half-time, Zullo produced a splendid curling twenty yard free-kick round the defensive wall which Moss somehow kept out to prevent the visitors from heading to the dressing rooms faced with a three-goal deficit to overcome.

Both teams could have been reduced to ten men inside the first fifteen minutes of the second half, with Manny Muscat and Elrich both guilty of leading with the elbow in challenges which saw their respective victims leave the game prematurely.

Cirio returned to the fray after treatment following his 54th minute clash with Muscat, but eventually headed to the sidelines with sixteen minutes remaining, clutching at the back of his neck.

Reece Caira, however, was far less fortunate – a suspected fractured cheekbone was the diagnosis following his encounter with Elrich’s elbow, and it was while he was off the field receiving treatment that Adelaide increased their advantage in the 59th minute.

Sanchez and Ferreira teamed up on the right – the space Caira would have been occupying, all things being equal – with the latter rifling a first-time fifteen yard strike into the top far corner, a goal his performance richly merited.

After Sigmund – the only Wellington outfield player to perform to his usual standard – had thwarted Adelaide substitute Awer Malik after more fine work by Ferreira, the home team scored a fourth goal in the 62nd minute.

Again, Ferreira was the outlet, after Sanchez had robbed Kenny Cunningham and fed the flank player yet again. This time, Ferreira delivered an inch-perfect cross into the stride of Neumann, who gleefully steered home his second goal of the game from ten yards.

Being stripped of possession clearly stirred something in Cunningham, for he got Wellington on the board five minutes later in stunning fashion – a swerving thirty-yarder which bounced in front of the diving figure of Galekovic before finding the corner of the net in the 67th minute.

Five minutes later, Cunningham was through again, Matthew Ridenton’s through ball playing the Costa Rican in behind the defence with just Galekovic to beat. He failed to do so, the ‘keeper parrying his effort before Nigel Boogaard stepped in to deny Huysegems the opportunity to turn home the rebound.

Adelaide came desperately close to netting a fifth goal on the counter-attack. Neumann led the rampage as he pursued his hat-trick, only to see Moss partially parry his shot. Substitute Josh Brindell-South, Caira’s replacement, got back to clear the ball off the line on this occasion.

Seconds later, Wellington were reduced to ten men, Muscat committing his second bookable offence in the eyes of inconsistently performed referee Lucien Laverdure, who could well have sent Osama Malik packing for the same reason in the time remaining.

But Malik remained on the park, and after Cameron Watson had come within inches of curling home a twenty yard free-kick, and Elrich managed to dodge a card of any hue after going through the back of Cunningham – a challenge which reduced Wellington to nine men for the last few minutes, having used all their substitutes, United’s number five started the move which brought about his team’s fifth goal.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Malik played a through ball which split the defence and played Neumann in with just Moss to beat. His shot did so, but hit the far post and rebounded off it against the incoming figure of Malik, who knew little about it as the ball bounced off him into the net.

A well deserved 5-1 win to Adelaide, then, one which keeps Josep Gombau’s team well in play-offs contention. Wellington’s play-off prospects, however, suddenly look less convincing, their second five-goal tanking in three games serving to emphasise just how important injured defensive midfield anchorman Albert Riera is to their game-plan.

They are very much a less cohesive unit without the Spaniard, make no mistake, and his absence – he won’t return in this campaign – could be a significant factor in determining whether or not Wellington’s season will extend beyond April 12.

Match details:

Adelaide United FC: Galekovic; Elrich, Malik (booked, 52), Boogaard, Zullo; Watson, Sanchez (Marrone, 68), Cirio (Elsey, 74); Ferreira, Djite (Mabil, 52), Neumann

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss; Boxall (booked, 77), Sigmund, Durante (booked, 81), Caira (Brindell-South, 60); Lia, Muscat (booked, 43, 73 – sent off), Cunningham; Boyd (Ridenton, 33), Hernandez (Brockie, 74), Huysegems

Ratings and Points:
Referee: Lucien Laverdure   4/10
Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10

Player points:
3.  Fabio Ferreira (AU)
2.  Jeronimo Neumann (AU)
1. Micahel Zullo (AU)

By Jeremy Ruane