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Victory down Reds in five-goal thriller as fans pay tribute to memory of Hughes

The tragic  death of Australian Test cricketer Phillip Hughes has had a profound effect on the whole nation, and AAMI Park was no exception on Friday night as Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United paid their own poignant tribute to the young batsman whose life was brought to a premature end  earlier this week.

Both sets of fans maintained a dignified minute-long silence as a mark of respect for the fallen cricketer, while a bat lay atop a soccer ball in the centre circle of the pitch before kick-off as a mark of respect and as an acknowledgement that life, even for top sportsmen at the peak of their powers, always contains risk.

In the gloomy context of such a harrowing week this was a contest that paid a wonderful tribute to the power of sport to exhilarate, entertain and  inspire passion, commitment and intensity of feeling as the two sides, perhaps the A-League’s most established rivals, put on a show that left all  on the edge of their seats.

Victory and Adelaide  had contributed five goals before the interval, with the hosts leading narrowly at the break. Few would have predicted that’s how this humdinger of a game would finish after 90 frenzied minutes.

Two of those goals were turned into their own net by Adelaide players Nigel Boogaard (with a seventh-minute header which looped past Reds goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic as he tried to clear a Gui Finkler cross) and Sergio Cirio. The latter was in the wrong spot as Boogaard cleared another Finkler delivery and could do little as the ball ricocheted off him and past Galekovic.

In between  Adelaide had drawn level through youngster Awer Mabil, who eventually took his chance when lightning struck twice down the Reds right wing.

The winger had got away from Victory full-back Daniel Georgievski early in the game but when presented with an open goal from Craig Goodwin’s cross somehow screwed his shot wide.

That was in the ninth minute. Five minutes later he got the same opportunity, again from a Goodwin cross, and this time made no mistake, sweeping home Adelaide’s first goal.

With the score 2-1 after barely a quarter-of-an-hour it would have been foolish not to expect more fireworks, and they soon came.

Victory stretched its lead to 3-1 just after the half-hour mark when the smallest man in their team, makeshift centre back Leigh Broxham, popped up unmarked at the far post to head home Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s cross which took a deflection.

That, however, wasn’t the end of an incident-packed first 45 minutes as the Reds scored what looked like a perfectly good goal that wasn’t given, and then converted what looked like a soft penalty. The first was a Goodwin free-kick from the Reds right flank which curled inside the wall and beat Nathan Coe only for referee Kris Griffiths-Jones to rule it out for what appeared to be interference in the build-up by Adelaide defender Osama Malik.

Shortly after, however, the Reds did reduce the deficit when the referee pointed to the spot after a minor clash between Victory centre half Adrian Leijer and Cirio. It seemed a harsh call for minor interference, and certainly Victory fans were not happy.

The second half was no less lively although neither side could add to their tally. Victory almost doubled their advantage when Mark Milligan’s header from a Finkler cross flashed just wide, then Boogaard partially made amends for his own goal with a desperate challenge to deny Besart Berisha when he was bearing down on goal.

Tempers erupted when Victory was awarded a free-kick wide on the left and several players got involved in a push and shove, although only Reds midfielder Isais was booked.

Malik was carried off on the hour mark and three minutes later the fans burst into spontaneous applause, another gesture of remembrance for Hughes, whose name was chanted for a short period.

But the heat was still very much in this match as the Reds looked for a leveller and Victory a sealer. Leijer and the Adelaide defender Tarek Elrich were booked after another flare up.

Adelaide huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow the Victory house down. Melbourne, temporarily, go top of the table with this win. The Reds might have lost their unbeaten record but showed they will be in the title race right to the end.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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