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2019-20 Australian A League, Regular Season
  • Nikola Mileusnic (44')
  • Al Hassan Toure (51')
  • Ryan Strain (57')
  • Adam Le Fondre (22' PEN, 28')
  • Ryan McGowan (87')

Ryan McGowan hands Sydney victory over Adelaide in A-League thriller

A late header from Ryan McGowan delivered Sydney FC a 3-2 win against Adelaide United in a rollicking A-League season opener.

McGowan nailed a free header in the 87th minute to settle a feisty Friday night encounter at Adelaide's Coopers Stadium.

"It's nice to come here and get a win," said Sydney coach Steve Corica.

"I'm pleased with the win and the performance - it can get better but it's the first game."

After Sydney's Adam Le Fondre produced a rapid first-half brace, Adelaide rallied with replies to Nikola Mileusnic and Al Hassan Toure.

And just as the fizz appeared to be dwindling, South Australian-born McGowan produced the decisive moment of his first A-League game. Unmarked from a Brandon O'Neill corner, McGowan sweetly hammered a header in the closing minutes.

The season opener also included a straight red card to Adelaide's Ryan Strain, who was marched for felling Le Fondre in a second-half sprint towards goal.

And the fresh campaign also featured video assistant review flashpoints, including an offside call which denied a goal to new Sky Blue Kosta Barbarouses. Barbarouses thought he'd delivered for his new club when he slotted past Adelaide goalkeeper Paul Izzo in the 60th minute. But a VAR review found the New Zealander offside and the goal was disallowed.

Just 10 minutes earlier, the VAR system decided Adelaide's lively newcomer Toure had levelled the score at 2-2.

In another narrow call, Toure was ruled onside when his teammate Riley McGree played an audacious lifted pass which paved the path to goal.

Toure's score lifted the 9,903-strong Adelaide crowd which had earlier slipped slumped after Le Fondre's quick-fire double.

Just 20 minutes in, referee Alex King halted play for a VAR check -- he watched replays of a Le Fondre clip brush an arm of Adelaide captain Michael Jakobsen inside the area, and awarded a penalty. Le Fondre duly scored, thumping into the top right netting.

Just six minutes later, the Englishman started and finished a flowing play which diced Adelaide's defence.

Le Fondre supplied Milos Ninkovic, who played Alex Baumjohann into space and the German's cut-back across the goal-face precisely found Le Fondre for a tap-in.

Adelaide answered just before half time when Sydney's Baumjohann tangled with Ryan Kitto and the Reds were given a free kick some 20 yard out.

Mileusnic duly produced a stunner with a curling strike which eluded a diving Thomas Heward-Belle.

"The whole game we were a little bit unlucky ... I saw a team who played very good football, a lot of chances," said Adelaide coach Gertjan Verbeek.