Adelaide United have broken the club's A-League finals hoodoo to reach next Saturday's grand final against Melbourne Victory and also clinched a place in the 2010 AFC Champions League.
Midfielder Fabian Barbiero's blockbuster volley in the 25th minute clinched a 1-0 win over Queensland Roar in the preliminary final at home on Saturday to set up another meeting with Victory for the season's title. Barbiero's fierce strike came after a week of inquisitions within the Adelaide camp after their abject 6-0 aggregate loss to Melbourne in the major semi-final.
The heavy defeat provoked coach Aurelio Vidmar into launching an astonishing attack on the political infighting at the club. The spirited win over Roar was also Adelaide's first, apart from winning the preliminary final on penalties two years ago, in ten finals games since the A-League's inception in 2005.
Vidmar said it was a huge relief to break the club's losing run in finals and he got the reaction he was looking for from his team following the two demoralising losses to Melbourne in the major semi.
"It was a great response from the team. After what's happened in the last couple of weeks, our performances have been certainly well below par and I thought it was a good sign of what we've done for the majority of the season, so that was extremely pleasing," Vidmar said.
"This was like a grand final for us because it means so much to the club and to our fans and it's an Asian Champions League spot as well, which is unbelievable." Adelaide became the first Australian team to reach the final of the AFC Champions League this season, losing 5-0 on aggregate to Japan's Gamba Osaka in last November's two-leg showpiece.
Losing Queensland Roar coach Frank Farina said the defeat to Adelaide was particularly painful due to missing out on the club's first-ever participation in the AFC Champions League. "That's football. Sometimes the better team doesn't win and I thought we were most probably the better side, but we were beaten by a wonder strike," the former Australian national team coach said.
"You can't do much about that, (goalkeeper) Liam Reddy had no chance, but we certainly had our chances. Adelaide sat back and defended, to their credit they defended well, worked hard for each other, but we're disappointed."
Farina said he was more saddened about missing out on playing in Asia than he was about not taking part in next week's grand final. Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets, who clashed in last season's A-League grand final, are Australia's representatives in this year's AFC Champions League which commences next month.