Sydney FC have failed to take advantage of one of the more controversial refereeing decisions in recent times in the A-League and been held to a 2-2 draw at home by ten-man Adelaide in a pulsating clash at Allianz Stadium.
The travelling Reds had taken the lead through Ryan Kitto early in the first half but their chances of holding onto it were turned on its head by a baffling red card distributed by referee Daniel Edler.
Adelaide’s Hiroshi Ibusuki was bemusingly given his marching orders just before half-time after sliding through to contest a loose ball.
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His trailing leg did catch Anthony Caceres on the ankle but the intent and force did not seem to constitute anything close to a sending off and quite how VAR failed to overturn it is mystifying.
The decision has prompted Football Australia to issue a release confirming that it will review the incident.
“That’s something we don’t want in the game. Decisions like that might put people off,” Adelaide coach Carl Veart said post game.
“That’s why we have VAR, to overrule decisions like that. If someone looks at that and says it’s a red card I don’t think you’ll find too many that agree. We’ll ask for an explanation, everyone in the league will want an explanation. We won’t finish a game with eleven men if that’s the standard,” Veart continued.
“When you look at it again it’s probably a little bit harsh on them. If I was in the same position I’d say it was probably harsh on Adelaide as well,” Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
The decision marred an enterprising first half from Adelaide as they exploited Sydney’s defensive issues in the absence of the injured Alex Wilkinson and Jack Rodwell.
Kitto cruised through on goal to put Adelaide ahead, with James Donachie and Aaron Gurd failing to put anything close to enough pressure on the Adelaide winger as he waltzed into the 18-yard box to slot the opener past Andrew Redmayne.
“I’m pleased with the way we got back into the game but not happy with the way we defended. We switched off. Kitto’s goal was a good one but defensively that was a bit weak,” Corica said.
The red card to Ibusuki opened the door for Sydney to strike early in the second half and respond, which they did with two superbly taken goals.
Star English recruit Joe Lolley netted for the second game in a row, as he got on the end of a delicate one-two pass from Caceres and slid his finish from the left across Joe Gauci in the Adelaide goal.
Five minutes later and Sydney took the lead through another well crafted opening.
Rhyan Grant was played through superbly down the right by a delightful Luke Brattan ball and in a move that would have impressed Socceroos boss Graham Arnold as he bids for a World Cup spot, he nodded the ball across the six-yard box for substitute Patrick Wood to tap home and hand the Sky Blues the lead.
Not long after and ten-man Adelaide were level. Socceroos winger Craig Goodwin once again showcased his quality to the national team staff by dancing down the left-hand side and crossing for former Sydney defender Harry Van Der Saag to head home and then lead a muted celebration against his former team.
There were numerous chances to break the deadlock late, the best of which fell to Reds sub Nestory Irankunda, but the teen striker was a little too heavy with his touch while trying to round Redmayne.