Despite trailing 2-0 late in the second half, Adelaide United have produced a thrilling comeback to draw 2-2 with Melbourne City in front of their faithful supporters.
Adelaide started the game with their trademark high press, putting the reigning champions under heavy pressure in the back third.
Javi Lopez nearly gave the Reds an early advantage when his shot from inside the box flew past the apex of the City goals.
Even though Adelaide started the game on the front foot, City fought their way back into the contest and took a 1-0 lead when Andrew Nabbout got in behind United’s defence to set up Jamie Maclaren for a simple tap-in goal.
Melbourne were inches away from increasing their lead late in the first half but Lopez denied Nabbout a shot on an open goal with a decisive interception to avert the danger.
Starting the second half with a one-goal advantage, City were eager to increase the margin. Nabbout had an opportunity to score Melbourne’s second on the edge of the penalty area but got denied by James Delianov’s reaction save.
However, Nabbout’s next shot on goal was too clinical to stop. The City forward struck the ball on the outside of his boot, curling it into the side netting to make the scoreline 2-0.
Against the run of play, Adelaide were able to halve Melbourne’s advantage when Kusini Yengi’s shot rebounded into the path of Stefan Mauk, who calmly placed the ball into the back of the net.
In the opening minute of added time, Ben Halloran capitalised on an error from Tom Glover, lobbing the keeper from well outside of his box to help the Reds produce a late comeback and secure a 2-2 draw.
CITY OVERCOME ADELAIDE’S IM’PRESS’IVE START
Entering the game as the underdogs, Adelaide was committed to piling the pressure on Melbourne from the opening whistle by using a high press.
While City struggled to clear their defensive lines under the press in the early moments of the match, the Victorian side maintained their composure and adjusted to United’s game plan.
Shortly after a long delay due to Lopez and Maclaren clashing heads, Melbourne made the most of the shift in momentum and took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to Maclaren’s timely finish.
NABBOUT RED HOT IN ADELAIDE
Andrew Nabbout continued his excellent run of form against United, scoring a goal and producing an assist before being replaced in the 80th minute.
Melbourne’s forward created several opportunities for his side throughout the match and came close to scoring again on other occasions.
Previously, Nabbout had scored five times in 11 appearances against the Reds and was able to add to his tally following another excellent performance in Adelaide.
FAST FINISHING REDS STUN CITY
Although it seemed as if Melbourne would cruise to a comfortable win after Nabbout’s goal in the 61st minute, Adelaide refused to go down in front of their home crowd and managed to pull off an inspiring comeback.
Captain Stefan Mauk halved the deficit with under 20 minutes left before Ben Halloran tied the game with a well-placed lob in the first moments of added time.
United’s turnaround against the reigning champions showed that the Reds are still displaying the same passion and determination they did when they fell one game short of an A-League Grand Final appearance last season.
A-League Men Round Two, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 2 (Mauk 78m, Halloran 90+1m)
Melbourne City 2 (Maclaren 28m, Nabbout 61m)