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2015/16 Hyundai A-League Finals Series a huge success!

The 2015/16 Hyundai A-League Finals Series was certainly one for the history books, with the top six teams pulling out all stops on their bid to reach the ultimate decider. The season’s top performers left fans on the edge of their seats in a series of stellar performances, ultimately leading to a blockbuster Grand Final at Adelaide Oval between the hosts and current Premiers, Adelaide United and the impressive Western Sydney Wanderers.

Adelaide United finished their resurgent season on top of the ladder with 49 points and the Premiers Plate back in Adelaide for the first time since the inaugural 2005/06 season. In what was one of the closest ladder finishes on record, Western Sydney took second place only one point behind on 48, followed closely by Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory respectively.

The 2015/16 Season saw a record number of goals scored, with the likes of Melbourne City’s Bruno Fornaroli, Brisbane Roar’s Jamie Maclaren and Melbourne Victory’s Besart Berisha among the top contributors. With some of the A-League’s top scorers in the final six teams headed to the Finals, even more outstanding goals were expected, and the players certainly delivered!

The Finals series kicked off at Suncorp Stadium with hosts, Brisbane Roar defeating the reigning Champions 2-1 in a heart stopping match which saw all 3 goals scored in the final 10 minutes of the match. Victory’s star striker, Besart Berisha, put his team in front momentarily with only 4 minutes of regular time left on the clock, only for Matt McKay to get one back for the hosts a few minutes later. The Roar sealed the win in extra time with Thomas Broich scoring from a corner, guaranteeing Brisbane a spot in the semi-finals against the Wanderers.

A stunning brace from Bruno Fornaroli secured a 2-0 win for Melbourne City at AAMI Park in the second elimination final, shattering Perth Glory’s Finals dreams. City’s impressive win meant they would face the Premiers in Adelaide in the semi-finals, with the Melbourne team looking to advance to their first ever Grand Final.

The Semi-finals began in a spectacular fashion with an impressive 4-1 victory for Adelaide United against Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium, securing the Reds a Grand Final on home turf. More than 15,000 passionate fans cheered excitedly as Bruce Djite struck twice within the first 15 minutes of the second half, putting the Reds in prime position to proceed to the ultimate decider. City were able to pull one back with a goal from Nick Fitzgerald, before Adelaide’s Dylan McGowan volleyed home the match-deciding goal and super sub Pablo Sanchez topped off the night for the home team with a last minute strike.

The action didn’t stop in Adelaide, with another thrilling Final taking place at Pirtek Stadium in what was the final game for the Western Sydney Wanderers on their home ground, set to make way for a newly built 30,000 seat stadium in Parramatta. Brisbane stunned the home fans by racing to a 3-0 lead within 23 minutes of the match. Goals from Romeo Castelen and Brendon Santalab edged the Wanderers in front 4-3, causing a frenzy amongst more than 20,000 fans. The Roar fought back with a second goal from Jamie Maclaren, forcing the game into extra-time. The determined Wanderers managed to secure their Grand Final hopes with a stunning goal from Dario Vidosic, with a 5-4 win setting up a clash with Adelaide and a chance to hold up the Champion’s trophy for the very first time.

The stage was set for an epic Grand Final at a sold out Adelaide Oval, with over 50,000 fans turning the stadium into a sea of red with a palpable atmosphere one could only expect from the biggest clash of the season. The stadium precinct was nothing short of lively, with thousands of fans enjoying live music, face painting, balloon art and the chance to capture a photo with the soon to be awarded Champions Trophy. Australia’s Got Talent winner, Bonnie Anderson, sung the national anthem to get the match underway, much to the elation of the packed stadium.

After a tense start, the game came to life with two goals to the home side midway through the first half, giving the Reds an advantage heading into the break. The visitors fought back with a goal from Scott Jamieson early in the second half but couldn’t seem to find the equaliser. Pablo Sanchez killed off any chance of a Wanderers win with a cracking strike in the dying moments, to the rapturous chants of Adelaide fans.

In what was a fitting end to a tumultuous season, Adelaide secured the Championship and forged a significant moment into the club’s history, having come from the bottom of the ladder to finish on top and bring home both trophies. A season that saw record breaking goals, the birth of promising young stars and many beautiful moments from the League’s finest players, ended on the back of an enthralling Finals Series, paving the way for an increasingly bigger, better season to come.