Harry Kewell enjoyed a solid 45 minutes on debut for Melbourne Victory as his side drew 1-1 with Adelaide United in a high-profile preseason clash at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.
Harry Kewell enjoyed a solid 45 minutes on debut for Melbourne Victory as his side drew 1-1 with Adelaide United in a high-profile pre-season clash at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.
Adelaide was heading for an unlikely victory after Andwele Slory put his side ahead in the first-half before Carlos Hernandez scored a late equaliser.
After a long, drawn-out transfer saga, Kewell finally made his debut for Melbourne and did not fail to impress, being the spearhead of almost every Victory attack during the first half.
Melbourne were dominating possession and looked the most likely to score before Adelaide took a shock lead in the 40th minute after a powerful finish from Slory.
A hopeful long ball fell to Sergio an Djik, and the Dutchman used his head to intelligently flick on the ball and release Slory on the counter-attack.
Slory raced past a scrambling Rodrigo Vargas before cutting to his right and firing a low drive past the diving Tando Velaphi.
Led by the enigmatic Kewell on debut and club stalwart, Archie Thompson, Victory made all the chances, often applying pressure to a flat Adelaide defence.
Kewell created Victory’s first opportunity of the game in the 14th minute.
After taking on two United defenders with some fancy footwork, the former Liverpool man whipped in a pinpoint cross to the head of Thompson, who had peeled off at the far post, only to nod the ball wide.
Kewell’s influence on the game then began to increase, as the 32-year-old moved in behind the strikers in a playmaking role.
The Qantas Socceroo began to torment United’s back four, threading through a series of neat defence-splitting passes, including one in the 32nd minute, that put Danny Allsopp clean through, only for the striker to lack the pace to get on the end of it.
Kewell’s last contribution of the game was a delicate flick to Thompson, who ran at Adelaide’s defence before spreading to Tom Pondelijak, only for the former Central Coast Mariner to drag his shot wide.
Adelaide looked to be buoyed by their goal and began the second half full of confidence.
Their first chance came in the 50th minute via a Cassio free-kick.
The Brazilian whipped in a dangerous free-kick to the near post that required a last-ditch clearance from Victory captain, Adrian Leijer to deny the on-rushing van Djik.
United began to dominate and looked dangerous going forward, as Victory began to retreat in their play.
However Hernandez, who came on for Kewell at half-time, began to assert his influence and it was the Costa Rican who snatched a late draw for Victory in the 87th minute.
Thompson was fleet footed to the right of United’s penalty box, weaving in and out of defenders before cutting the ball back for Hernandez to score with a neat finish from 12 metres.
Adelaide United 1 (Slory 40)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Hernandez 87)
9,543 at Hindmarsh Stadium