Andrew Nabbout snatches possession from Adelaide United’s Louis D'Arrigo.
Andrew Nabbout snatches possession from Adelaide United’s Louis D'Arrigo.

Two-goal McGree ends tough week on high

It was billed as the return of an inspirational leader and a chance for a new boy to haunt his former employer.

Instead, Riley McGree stole the show at the end of a week to forget for the young gun, as James Troisi's Adelaide United emphatically saw off Marco Kurz's Melbourne Victory.

McGree slammed home the opener midway through the first half of Saturday night's high-octane clash of bitter rivals at a boisterous Hindmarsh Stadium.

The SA-born playmaker then sealed the 3-1 triumph with a stunning solo strike, following Ola Toivonen's equaliser and Michael Maria's maiden United goal.

Michael Maria celebrates his maiden goal for Adelaide United. Picture: Sarad Reed.
Michael Maria celebrates his maiden goal for Adelaide United. Picture: Sarad Reed.

It came just four days after McGree was handed an international ban for engaging in unprofessional conduct while on national under-23 duty earlier this year.

His five-star display also ensured an unhappy homecoming for ex-United coach Kurz and sweet success for former Victory midfielder Troisi.

The eye-catching result and performance propelled Adelaide to third, in Dutchman Gertjan Verbeek's debut season at the helm.

It also relegated Victory to ninth with just one win since Kurz took over the reigns after his Reds tenure ended in May.

United started brightly and had two chances to hit the front in the first four minutes.

Louis D'Arrigo's corner was only half cleared and when Michael Marrone recycled a low ball into the danger area, Kristian Opseth failed to make meaningful contact from 8m out.

Riley McGree is mobbed by teammates after scoring his second goal against Melbourne Victory.
Riley McGree is mobbed by teammates after scoring his second goal against Melbourne Victory.

A quick break and shot by George Blackwood, deployed wide on the right in place of hip-injury victim Ben Halloran, almost fell kindly in the box for Nikola Mileusnic moments later.

Blackwood again went close with a diving header clawed out by Lawrence Thomas, before Paul Izzo expertly denied Corey Brown's finish with his foot at the other end.

Troisi almost silenced the predictable boos from the travelling fans when he exchanged a slick one-two with McGree, but scuffed his shot at Thomas.

Adelaide took a deserved lead on 23 minutes.

Teenager D'Arrigo started another flowing move by intelligently feeding Ryan Strain, who cut inside at pace before picking out Opseth in the area.

The Norwegian hitman turned and rolled a shot goalwards which bounced back off the upright for McGree to smash in from close range.

A quick VAR check showed the homegrown star was played onside by Thomas Deng.

Kurz threw on Adelaide-raised speedster Elvis Kamsoba at the break in place of Brandon Lauton in a bid to spark life into a largely listless Victory outfit.

Nikola Mileusnic drives forward for Adelaide United.
Nikola Mileusnic drives forward for Adelaide United.

But it was the Reds who were inches away from doubling their advantage, as Opseth flashed a powerful angled drive across the face of goal.

Victory had the ball in the net at the other end moments later, but Kamsoba's strike was correctly ruled out for Brown's handball after Izzo had parried Andrew Nabbout's effort.

The visitors squared the contest on 61 minutes thanks to a coaching masterstroke.

German mentor Kurz, who led the Reds to FFA Cup glory last campaign, introduced off-season recruit Robbie Kruse from the bench.

The Socceroos wideman produced a super run and dinked cross to the back post just seven minutes later for Toivonen to get free from Maria and crack in a blistering volley.

But Adelaide struck back instantly.

Maria started another quick-fire attack from the kick-off and continued his run forward.

The Curacao international was found by Mileusnic, before breaking into the box and rifling in a shot that deflected off Deng and Basha on its way in.

Andrew Nabbout snatches possession from Adelaide United’s Louis D'Arrigo.
Andrew Nabbout snatches possession from Adelaide United’s Louis D'Arrigo.

Albanian Basha was initially credited with an own goal, but Maria seemed certain to be awarded it on review.

United grabbed a two-goal buffer five minutes later and it owed everything to the genius of McGree.

The Gawler Eagles product chased a seemingly lost cause tight up against the right touchline and after somehow keeping the ball in play, skinned substitute Tim Hoogland.

McGree steadied, before cutting on to his left foot and finishing ruthlessly to send the Reds fans into dreamland at the expense of their sworn enemies.

His sixth goal of a brilliant campaign was the perfect response, after he was slapped with a five-month suspension for his part in an alleged incident while with the Olyroos in Cambodia.

 

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Riley McGree wins a header in front of Ola Toivonen.
Riley McGree wins a header in front of Ola Toivonen.
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