Queensland Roar handed Adelaide United a 0-0 thrashing at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
A crowd of more than 16,000 saw the local heroes dominate throughout, having perhaps 70-80% of possession, and by my count 17 realistic goal chances to Adelaide’s one.
Adelaide keeper Robert Bajic had a very busy night and was a clear man of the match, but Queensland were also wasteful in front of goal, particularly in the first half.
Queensland went one-up in the second half, but that was a numerical advantage when Shengqing Qu was sent off, rather than a scoreboard advantage.
Queensland started the game with a formation that was either an attacking 3-5-2 or a very attacking 4-4-2. Ognenosvki was just in front of the two centre backs Gibson and McCloughan. The wing backs were Packer on the left and Seo on the right. Packer was especially adventurous throughout, and got forward often to create crossing opportunities.
Roar coach Miron Bleiberg had shuffled his pack again, and left Ante Milicic on the bench. He started with his most mobile front pair, Simon Lynch and Reinaldo.
Marcus Wedau, Matt McKay and Massimo Murdocca were there to provide the creative spark from midfield.
Adelaide were in a 4-4-1-1, with Fernando Rech playing just behind Shengqing Qu, the out-and out striker. Carl Veart and Ross Aloisi formed an experienced pair in the heart of midfield, with Angelo Costanzo marshalling the troops in the centre of defence. Interesting to note that Kosmina preferred 21-year-old Robert Cornthwaite as Costanzo’s partner, instead of recent Socceroo Michael Valkanis, who warmed the bench.
So that’s how the sides lined up. What happened next was right up to the expectations of the Roar fans in almost every respect. Queensland tore into the match at a high tempo, dominating the early exchanges. Packer and McKay were finding plenty of space down the left, Wedau and Seo were putting passes into the space behind the fullbacks for Reinaldo or Lynch to chase down. The pace and mobility of Reinaldo was particularly causing Adelaide trouble. Reinaldo was also doing a great job of defending from the front, often winning the ball back in good positions.
It was only the second minute when a Lynch cross onto the head of a flying McKay brought a good save from Bajic.
In the next couple of minutes Reinaldo and Lynch both brought saves from Bajic.
Adelaide got a foothold in the match finally in the 17th minute, and a Greg Owen cross on the head of Qu might have brought a better result.
But after that moment, Queensland proceeded to dominate the rest of the half, winning corner after corner, creating chance after chance. McCloughan and Ognenovski both went close with headers from Marcus Wedau corners. In the 32nd minute, Reinaldo was clean through on goal, and appeared to have his shirt pulled by Cornthwaite. The Brazilian went to ground just outside the penalty box, but referee Matthew Breeze waved play on, much to the displeasure of the crowd and the Roar players. Simon Lynch was booked for dissent in the aftermath.
Simon Lynch fashioned two more clear-cut chances for himself before half time. The Roar were close to their best, and Adelaide were being over-run. The only problem? No reward for their domination.
Kosmina took an ineffective and maybe injured Fernando off at half-time. Valkanis came into the defence, Costanzo moved into midfield and Veart up front.
It made no difference. Queensland started the second half just like the first. McKay and Murdocca, the two blue-heelers, were constantly snapping at the ankles of Costanzo and Aloisi, and Adelaide could rarely string together more than a couple of passes.
Lynch and then Wedau had shooting chances on the edge of the area in the first five minutes of the half, bringing comfortable saves from Bajic.
In the 58th minute, Shengqing Qu was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident with Roar skipper Chad Gibson. Replays showed Qu had headbutted Gibson, and Breeze was right on the spot.
They were a man down but Adelaide, and particularly Robert Bajic, refused to yield.
Bleiberg began to ring the changes: Milicic on for Reinaldo, who had a fine game. Dario Vidosic on, sacrificing the skipper Gibson. Yuning Zhang on for Marcus Wedau, a move which this writer thought took away a bit of Queensland ’s ability to open up the Adelaide defence with good passes.
The result was a slightly crowded forward line, with often five Roar attackers and six Adelaide defenders. Midfield was left largely vacant. Kosmina sent on teenage sensation Nathan Burns, and he was lively up front, but McCloughan and Ognenovski were always there to double-team the youngster.
The match refused to peter out. The Roar continued to pepper Bajic’s goal until the very end. Corner after corner, raid after raid, but each time Bajic had the answer. He saved his best save of the game for the 78th minute, when a Zhang header appeared goalbound, but was once again denied.
Zhang and Lynch and Milicic still had chances save after that one, and when the final whistle blew, there were exhausted bodies lying on the ground of players from both sides. Only the referee and his assistants seemed to have the energy to make their way from the field.
For a 0-0 draw, it was one of the more entertaining matches this writer has seen. Maybe it’s a pity that goals weren’t scored, but the Roar will have lost no fans from this display. Drawing 16,000 on a night when the Brisbane rugby league team were playing a semifinal live on the telly was not a bad achievement.