A late goal from Fahid Ben Khalfallah saw him cancel out Sergio Cirio’s opener as Melbourne Victory salvaged a point in their gripping 1-1 draw against Adelaide United in front of 33,126 fans at Adelaide Oval.
The Tunisian international netted moments after Cirio opened the scoring after 84 goalless minutes when he latched onto a through-ball before striking into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Three minutes later, though, Khalfallah turned the match on its head as he broke free from Jimmy Jeggo before slotting the ball past Eugene Galekovic, silencing the record Adelaide crowd.
The draw means that there are no changes to the ladder with Melbourne Victory still sitting at the top with four points and Adelaide just behind them on goal difference.
And the stakes for the match were high.
Kevin Muscat’s men entered this fixture keen on carrying on last week’s dominant performance against the Western Sydney Wanderers. Leigh Broxham, who played a key role last weekend, started on the bench, making way for captain and Australian Marquee Mark Milligan, who had , two days earlier, arrived off a plane from national duties in Qatar.
Adelaide begun the match with their budding strikers in Fabio Ferreira and Bruce Djite leading the way upfront, only to be denied multiple times by defenders Georgievski and Delpierre. Adelaide only managed a few shots on target within the first half, it became increasinly evident that Melbourne’s defence wouldn’t give in so early.
Melbourne kicked their offensive play into gear when in the 16th minute; Gui Finkler fired a shot just wide of Adelaide Captain Eugene Galekovic’s net. It was not until the 38th minute when another clear-cut chance was presented in the game with Finkler once again finding the room in the box but failing to deliver the points.
Melbourne hit back with a volley from Captain Mark Milligan, a shot which Galekovic parried away with ease.
Half-time would visit with the scores locked at 0-0.
The second half started in similar fashion. Early on, it seemed Melbourne would get onto the front foot. However, such threat never materialised as defenders Boogaard and Goodwin dealt with the danger.Adelaide too attempted to test the Melbourne goal, but to no avail.
Once Leigh Broxham replaced Adam Leijer in the 67th minute, the game began to intensify as teams took to foul-play as a use of tactics. Adelaide players Djite, Cirio, Boogaard and Sanchez were all presented with yellow cards, while Milligan and Khalfallah joined in.
Besart Berisha nearly made himself heard in the 80th minute with a near-header that should’ve ended up in the back of the net following a dangerous cross where Galekovic was nowhere to be seen.
It was Coe, however, who bucked under the pressure first when Cirio fired a powerful shot to the right of the Melbourne keeper to put the home side 1-0 up – a strike which seemed to have sealed the match.
Tunisian midfielder Ben Khalfallah responded in the 89th minute with a powerful volley put right above the head of Eugene Galekovic to seal a draw for the visitors.
Adelaide United 1 (Sergio Cirio 85’)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Ben Khalfallah 89’)
Man of the match: Craig Goodwin