Melbourne Victory decide derby to make A-League Women’s Grand Final, beating Adelaide United
Melbourne Victory beat Adelaide United 2-1 in the A-League Women’s semi-final in a fierce and entertaining competition at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Victory will now face intercity rivals Melbourne City for a place against Sydney FC in the grand final.
Captain Lia Privatelli was instrumental for the visitors, opening the scoring in the first half before providing an assist in the second, after Reds midfielder Nanako Sasaki netted an audacious free-kick to equalise.
Guest coach Jeff Hopkins was delighted with the effort of his players, who battled to nullify the Reds’ attack.
“I’m really happy with the performance, very proud too because we had to dig deep in that second half,” he said.
Reds manager Adrian Stenta admitted it wasn’t his side’s neatest performance.
“I didn’t think we were at our best today and I think Victory came with a good plan which they put in place and executed well,” he said.
The win benefited from the majority of possession and territory early on, but it was the Reds who got the first chance.
In the 10th minute, a cross from Fiona Worts from the left sows confusion in the Victory area between goalkeeper Casey Dumont and her defenders.
Dylan Holmes slipped in at the far post, on the blind side of her hesitant opponent, but the shot was cleared by Dumont.
The visitors had the next best chance in the 18th minute when Catherin Zimmerman picked up a deflected pass and raced towards goal, forcing Annalee Grove into an excellent reflex save with her legs.
Victory continued to press and broke the deadlock in the 28th minute thanks to skipper Privatelli.
Catherine Zimmerman and Alex Chidiac exchanged passes before Zimmerman whipped a cross towards the back post, where Privatelli coolly drove home from close range.
The lead, however, only lasted a few minutes with Adelaide United equalizing thanks to a goal of the season contender from Sasaki.
The Japanese midfielder stood on a free kick 35m from goal and with all players lined up outside the penalty area awaiting delivery, Sasaki caught Dumont off his line and lobbed the Victory goalkeeper directly from the free kick, the ball embracing the underside of the crossbar on the entrance.
Adelaide attacked early in the second half and Chelsie Dawber had a big chance soon after the restart, starting down the left before cutting inside and shooting some more from inside the area.
The win looked neater in the first third and in the 57th minute they scored their second.
Striker Privatelli turned into a provider this time, firing a cross from the right for Melina Ayres, who drifted in the middle of the Reds penalty area to slip cleanly past Grove.
The Reds pushed hard in search of an equalizer but failed to create any real net chances.
Victory still looked threatening on offense, with Privatell the most dangerous.
She was involved again in the 70th minute, finding space at the edge of the box, but Grove rushed to close the angle and the shot was saved.