Bruno Fornaroli. Picture: Chrisgospel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=125054052

Bruno Fornaroli. Picture: Chrisgospel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=125054052

It was a brace for Bruno Fornaroli that told the story of Saturday’s A-League clash at Hindmarsh, as Melbourne Victory continued to heap more pain on Adelaide United.

With 2023/24 quickly becoming a season to forget for Adelaide United, they returned home to face a Melbourne Victory team with a slight dip in form. 

Victory had lost to both Central Coast and Brisbane Roar in the past two games.  They had fallen to fourth, on the table, by the start of the round and trailed leaders Wellington by nine points.  They were six points away from second place and the promise of weeks rest come the finals series.   

Adelaide were nine points from finals. Carl Veart stated that he believes that United can still make finals, stating as much prior to the loss against Western Sydney in the last home match. 

“I think they’re great atmosphere games, aren’t they?” Carl Veart said on the Original Rivalry.

“The rivalry is quite fierce.”

“This one’s hard for many reasons, but also exciting for many reasons.” Victory manager Popovic added to Veart’s thoughts.

“The rivalry that the two clubs have, the fans on both sides and you know when you see that bay filled with Melbourne Victory supporters you know it’s a special game.”

“It’s one that everyone looks forward to whether you’re a fan, whether you’re a player, whether you’re in the football department.”

For the first five minutes of the game, Adelaide looked the better team. A switch from Alagich opened the door for Van Der Saag, the move ended in a shot from Giuseppe Bovalina.  The tight angle worked against the defender and stopped the scoring chance.    

Within moments, Victory reminded United just how dangerous they can be. A good forward movement ending in the shot from Machach, which landed on the roof of the net. 

Machach’s ball into Velupillay was brilliant in the 25th minute. Velupillay let it run, which took it past two United defenders and forced an unbelievable save out of Delianov. Moments later from the corner, Da Silva’s head placed the ball just right of the post. 

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It was Fornaroli’s 33rd minute finish to send the Victory fans into raptures.  It was Machach’s touch to turn past the tackling Tunnicliffe and send a ball to Velupillay.  From there the shot from Victory’s 17 was across the face of goal, and Delianov’s touch was not enough.  It was poached on the goal line as Fornaroli did what he does best.  Victory had their well-deserved lead, one goal to nil.

At half time it was United who were in real trouble at the break.  As well as being behind, the Reds trailed in shots and possessions.  The stats telling the same story as the gameplay. 

Just after half time, it was Nestory Irankunda’s departing gift that came early, but it was marvelous.   He hit the ball from well outside the 18-yard-box. 

The dipping shot not able to be kept out by Izzo, the ball hit his hand, but deflected into the roof of the net.

The game now level at one apiece. Irankunda’s celebration would take place in front of the Victory fans. However, the Victory bay would have the last laugh as Nestory’s celebration would lead to him receiving a booking.

“We needed to have more directness from our wide players,” Veart said.

“That’s what Nestor and then Benny (Halloran) sort of brought in the first 20-25 minutes, both of them did quite well.”

Moments later, United would give away a penalty.  The ball striking Nick Ansell’s hand.  Fornaroli would step up to complete his brace, the ball driven into the bottom left corner and the restored Victory lead would leave a familiar taste in Adelaide’s mouth.   

Machach and Fornaroli were running riot. In the 60th minute, Machach would find a ball and pass to Fornaroli on his hattrick, the jumping James Delianov would stop Adelaide from falling any further behind. 

The play between Machach and Fornaroli was touched on post game by Tony Popovic.

“I think that was a probably the key to our front third. Nisha, (Nishan Velupillay) looked very dangerous today. Zuzu, (Zinédine Machach), Bruno (Fornaroli), Salim (Khelifi) did a good job,” he said.

Lopez’s cross to Clough would leave United rueing chances. Lopez’s ball took the entire Victory defence out, unfortunately it ended over the bar. Not to be for the Reds, the opportunity not taken advantage of. 

“He’s fantastic,” Carl said on Javi Lopez’s leadership.

“He was captain of a big Spanish club. Javi is great in the change room, he’s very good with young players and again tonight he was good.”

From the corner, it would be Fornaroli who gained another opportunity for the knockout blow.  Fornaroli shot after Machach won the ball back from Halloran on the Manton Street wing.  It would be turned home by centre back Damien Da Silva, but it was chalked off for offside. 

After United’s defence was cut open with just five minutes left.  It was a shot from Gbenga Folami that threatened again, and yet again it was another save from Adelaide’s number one.  

In injury time, Zac Clough tried the impossible from a free kick.  On the edge of the box, he would try and bend it into the top corner. Also arriving quickly on the stage was Javi Lopez for a header.  The shot just missed; Adelaide wasn’t far away from being level. 

However, Melbourne would hang onto Victory, but only just after United’s determined second half. 

Melbourne Victory moved to third on the ladder, with winnable games against Western United and Perth Glory in Melbourne.   

Adelaide’s form is now at an all time low, the club now six games without a victory at Hindmarsh.

Carl Veart was asked whether he was worried about the form dip continuing into next season.

“No not at all. That’s a long way away yet,” he said.

“We have to have a look at how we’ve gone about with the squad for this season. We’ve had some late outs and late transfers, they’ve disrupted the squad but there’s something that we need to make sure we get right moving forward.

“It’s disappointing that we didn’t send our fans home happy tonight. But that’s something we have to take.”

Tony Popovic offered the alternate prospective.

“We’re delighted! We gain three points,” he said.

“These games obviously, always passionate affairs and coming here is always special. A special atmosphere, great stadium, the pitch is great. It’s everything that you expect from this game. So, you know, we’re happy to come away with a win.”

“It’s a game that you look on the calendar and you look forward to that match. We’ve had three really tough good games against them.”

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