LNTUP

Adelaide United Held To A Draw At Home By Melbourne Victory

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Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory have shared the points in a thrilling, sometimes bruising 2-2 draw at Adelaide Oval.

United midfielder Vince Lia stole the show on Friday night with a classy double in between goals from Besart Berisha and Mitch Austin, who levelled with eight minutes remaining.

After only four goals in a career spanning almost 300 A-League matches, Lia bagged his first goals for the Reds in an impressive performance.

Victory started the better of the two sides as the Reds continued their trend of tame openings. Berisha broke the deadlock on 13 minutes with a powerful header after a pinpoint cross from a Leroy George free kick.

Tensions escalated seven minutes later when Rhys Williams tangled with Ben Garuccio before wrestling Reds skipper Isaias to the ground. The stopper somehow escaped sanction from referee Shaun Evans, despite the incident attracting the attention of the video assistant referee, but the tussle sparked United into action.

Foundation Victory midfielder Lia restored parity on 23 minutes with a venomous half-volley from the edge of the area when Johan Absalonsen laid off after a cross from Michael Marrone.

After the equaliser, United gained control and carved out some half chances before George Blackwood almost put Adelaide ahead on the stroke of halftime. Absalonsen was again involved, setting up Blackwood, but his effort from 12 metres was thwarted by some desperate Melbourne defending.

A minute later, Berisha was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after shoving Jordan Elsey to the ground and making contact with fourth official Daniel Elder.

Early in the second half, neither side was able to create any real chances until Lia doubled his tally. The midfielder found the net with a first-time strike from 20 metres with Absalonsen again the provider.

Victory lifted after conceding and battled hard to level the scores through substitute Austin. With his back to goal, Berisha’s shot on the turn was blocked and the rebound fell nicely for the Melbourne winger. He managed to direct his shot through a number of bodies in the penalty area.

United had legitimate claims for a penalty on 90 minutes when Absalonsen’s cross appeared to strike full-back Jason Geria’s arm.

Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz was pleased with the Reds effort and felt the draw was a fair result.

“I’m not unhappy with the game, with the performance from my team,” he said. ‘I think the draw is a good result for both teams.”

However, Victory coach Kevin Muscat thought his side should have taken all three points.

“Overall I thought we played some really good stuff,” he said. “I thought we were very good value.”