Bruce Djite's 89th-minute header has handed Adelaide a dramatic 1-0 win in their AFC Champions League clash with Pohang Steelers, propelling the Reds to the top of Group E.Adelaide United has climbed to the top of Group E in the AFC Champions League following a gutsy 1-0 victory over South Korean giants Pohang Steelers at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.
With top position to play for, each side failed to carve out genuine chances and looked incapable of finding a breakthrough until Adelaide striker Bruce Djite struck at the death to give Reds the victory.
Reds vice-captain Cassio delivered a half-volley cross against the by-line to Djite, who rose highest to prod in a looping header into the top right-hand corner.
The 89th-minute winner lifts Adelaide into first place, three points clear of Pohang in second and on track to qualify for the knockout stages of the Asian tournament.
Adelaide looked the livelier of two sides and raced out of the blocks in the opening minute.
Brazilian left-back Cassio ran at the Pohang defence from deep slicing his way past two defenders before laying off wide to Iain Ramsay, who hit a teasing ball across the face of goal just beyond of the reach of Djite tearing in on goal.
Pohang struck back minutes later when Kim Jin-Ryong slid an inch perfect through ball into the path of Byung Jun, but the striker's tame effort was blocked by former Adelaide captain Jon McKain.
Pohang should have found the net on 10 minutes had Reds skipper Eugene Galekovic not produced a phenomenal save.
With the ball trickling out Jin-Ryong managed to whip in a dipping and pinpoint cross from near the by-line to an unmarked No Byung-Jun whose header looked destined for the net until Galekovic intervened.
The Reds gloveman pulled off an incredible diving one-handed save to his right reminiscent of goalkeeping greats Gordon Banks and Peter Schmeichel, to turn the ball around the post and deny the South Korean attacker an opening goal.
The match entered a lull for the rest of the half as it became riddled with errors and fouls.
The second half began in a lively tone with both sides going close with back-to-back chances.
Pohang were the first in the 48th minute when a hopeful cross landed favourably to Ianis Zicu.
The Romanian striker cleverly flicked on the ball to Derek Asamoah, but the Ghanaian's powerful shot was thwarted by Galekovic, as Zicu smashed a follow up effort well over the bar.
Pohang keeper Shin Hwa-Yong wasn't to be outdone by his Australian counterpart moments later, denying Ramsay with a smart save down low after Adelaide had raced away on the counter.
Talented attacker Evan Kostopoulos cut in from the wing and slithered his way into Pohang's box before cutting a sharp ball back to Ramsay only for Shin to block the ball with his legs.
Galekovic almost tainted his fine performance in goal when he fluffed a pass straight to Jin-Ryong who in turned released Asamoah through on goal.
However the 2008-09 and 2009-10 A-League Goalkeeper of the Year spared his blushes with another fine stop.
Reds creative spark Zenon Caravella almost found the breakthrough in the 67th minute when a corner spilt free to the midfielder primed on the edge of the box, but the 29-year-old's thunderous drive flew just inches wide.
With the match looking destined for a draw Adelaide finally broke the deadlock in the 89th minute when Djite fired home Cassio's cross to send the 7659-strong faithful into a frenzy.
Adelaide United 1 (Djite 89)
Pohang Steelers 0
Crowd: 7659 at Hindmarsh Stadium