For most of Wednesday night’s FFA Cup Round of 32 tie, Adelaide City had Melbourne Victory up against the ropes. A late penalty might have stolen the win for the Victorians, but City played with quality in front of their passionate supporters.
Hoping they could produce the same FFA Cup magic that got them into the 2014 quarter-finals, Adelaide started the match by continuously pressing the Victory.
Eventually, City’s pressure paid off when they were awarded an indirect free-kick after Victory keeper Jerrad Tyson unknowingly handled a back-pass from his teammate.
With a golden opportunity to open the scoring, Adelaide were close to hitting the back of the net only for last week’s cup hero, Tyson, to come to the rescue, parrying the free-kick over the touchline.
Adelaide had 11 shots in the first half but the Victory defence held firm to keep the game 0-0 heading into the break.
Unlike the first half, The Boys in Blue started to absorb City’s pressure and play with more composure.
The game looked destined to go to extra-time after both teams remained scoreless at the 90-minute mark; But Melbourne had other plans.
In the final moments of stoppage time, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio got on the end of a counter-attack and earned the Victory a late penalty after being brought down by Jok Akuien.
For the second time in two weeks, Anthony Leban stepped up to score the game-winning penalty, giving Melbourne a dramatic 1-0 FFA Cup win.
RETURN OF THE ZEBRAS
Seven years after defeating the Western Sydney Wanderers and becoming the first NPL team to eliminate an A-League side from the FFA Cup, Adelaide City and its supporters were eager to make the competition’s Round of 16 once again.
Unfortunately for the reigning NPL SA champions they had not competed in the FFA Cup since the inaugural tournament but that changed in 2021.
To make the Round of 32, Adelaide defeated the Adelaide Hills Hawks, White City FC, Sturt Lions and finally, the North Eastern Metro Stars.
City fans celebrated their return to the national cup competition by showing up in numbers and turning the Marden Sports Complex into a hostile atmosphere for the visiting A-League Men side.
Following the game, Adelaide’s star midfielder Nicholas Bucco discussed the support his side received during their return to the FFA Cup Finals.
“It was a good experience [playing in front of the City faithful], a very enjoyable game, I thought we put ourselves on display really well,” he told Kick360.
Bucco went on to talk about City’s performance during the clash with Melbourne and their opportunities on goal in the opening 45-minutes.
“With the pressure we put on them, I think they struggled with that. It really showed in the first half with all the chances we created,” the attacking midfielder said.
“To be fair, we should have been up at half-time. If you don’t take your chances, you get punished.
“They struggled to create anything so, I definitely think that we could have gone on with it [if we scored first] but, it wasn’t meant to be.”
After Adelaide’s elimination, Bucco turned his attention to the off-season and spoke about his team’s ambitions in 2022.
“We’ll probably have a rest until January now. We need it, it’s been a long year,” he chuckled.
“We’re always looking to win back-to-back [NPL SA titles] and hopefully, we’ll get back into the FFA Cup next year and go one further.”
Image Source: FFA Cup