The wise heads of Western United prevailed to steal a valuable point from Adelaide United in a 0-0 draw at Hindmarsh last night.
Adelaide huffed and puffed but could not penetrate a well-drilled Western despite having a numerical advantage for about an hour when the visitor’s Victor Sanchez was sent off.
Western should have stolen all the points before Reds Mohamed Toure was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking.
A sheer moment of magic from Italian superstar Alessandro Diamanti saw Adelaide left off the hook by what looked to be a poor call by the match officials.
Diamanti delivered one of the sweetest 30m passes seen at Hindmarsh to teammate Dylan Pierias who put the ball into the back of the net but VAR intervened in the 78th minute.
The replay appeared inconclusive but the goal was disallowed.
The A-League’s lopsided draw saw Adelaide and Western face off just the once this season in the home-and-away round which is a pity for the purists.
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Adelaide had all the possession while Western defended deep and lapped up the continual Reds barrage which lacked imagination.
Reds midfielder Louis D’Arrigo coming off at the break for striker Kusini Yengi added another dimension for Adelaide’s front line but the tactical move played into the hands of coach Mark Rudan’s men.
However, Yengi’s presence rocked Western.
He almost scored when a wicked turn and 18m shot forced Western’s ex Bentleigh Greens NPL shot-stopper into a brilliant save in the 63rd minute.
In an extraordinary substitution, brothers Al Hassan and Mohamed Toure made an entrance for Craig Goodwin and Tomi Juric in a bid to prise Western open in the 72nd minute.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
Born in Prato, Italy where the city was at its peak with the Renaissance, when artists such as Donatello and Botticelli left their mark, Western captain Diamanti conquered Adelaide.
Turning 38 on Sunday, Diamanti (whose Italian name translates to diamonds) proved why he was highly regarded at West Ham, Bologna and the Italian national team where he featured in the Azzurri side which made the EURO 2012 final.
Diamanti was an artisan at Hindmarsh.
Delightful to watch, two steps ahead of his opponents, it’s hard not to love what the Italian can do with the ball with his gifted left foot.
Western’s former Barcelona and Espanyol legend Sanchez, was expelled nine minutes before the break for what appeared to be a needless second booking.
His first booking – a foul on Ben Halloran – was one taken for the team in the 15th minute when the Reds winger was away on the counter.
His second booking – on the halfway line – when he clattered into D’Arrigo turned the contest from being entertaining to a survival fight.
BERISHA’S PARTY POOPED
Having scored 21 goals in 26 matches against Adelaide before last night, Berisha thought he had scored his 22nd against the Reds in the 17th minute.
However referee Chris Beath’s sharp eye correctly saw a handball from Western midfielder Tomislav Uskok in the lead up which irked Berisha.
He was sacrificed for a defender Brendan Hamill in the 58th minute much to the delight of the partisan fans.
Adelaide United 0 Western United 0 (Dylan Piers 78m) at Coopers Stadium – Referee: Chris Beath – VAR: Kate Jacewicz – Crowd: 7699