The Reds were forced to come from behind last night after Bruno Fornaroli opened the scoring in just the fourth minute.
It was just the defending champions’ second win of the season and a less-than-ideal return to Coopers Stadium for former Adelaide assistant and interim City coach Michael Valkanis.
It was a pulsating opening and the Reds thought they had broken the deadlock inside two minutes when Sergio Cirio found the net following a cross from Ben Garuccio, but it was questionably ruled out for offside.
Just two minutes later, Adelaide hearts sank again when two of their former players combined to set up Fornaroli for the opener.
Ruon Tongyik played Bruce Kamau in behind United’s defence and the winger squared the ball for the City skipper who made no mistake from close range.
But the Reds grabbed an equaliser shortly after when Dylan McGowan rose highest to head in a well-delivered free kick from the right from Isaias.
On the half-hour, United almost took the lead when Michael Jakobsen was robbed in defence by Ryan Kitto, but the young Adelaide flyer couldn’t direct a shot on target with only keeper Dean Bouzanis to beat.
City found the net for a second time when Nicolas Colazo rounded Eugene Galekovic and put the ball in but it also was controversially ruled out for offside.
In the dying seconds of the first half, the home side had another great chance when Isaias supplied Cirio with a defence-splitting pass, but the Spaniard couldn’t find a way past Bouzanis.
Both sides found it difficult to carve out clear-cut chances early in the second half but, as time wore on, City imposed their dominance.
Kamau had a powerful shot from a tight angle saved by Galekovic on 72 minutes before Ivan Franjic blazed over from similar range.
Substitute Fernando Brandan was lively after his introduction and was causing the Reds’ defence all sorts of problems on the left.
But United had the last say with Ochieng netting the winner in the 87th minute, five minutes after being introduced to the action.
Midfielder James Holland found substitute Sergi Guardiola out wide who released Ochieng with a sublime first-time volleyed pass.
Ochieng raced through the City half with just Bouzanis to beat, and made no mistake slotting his shot into the top corner.
There were more than a few anxious moments in the final stages but United held on for maximum points.
After a fruitless campaign thus far, coach Guillermo Amor was delighted with the Reds’ win but refused to get carried away.
“It is important to enjoy today, the result and the performance,” he said.
“But we must think it’s just the second game we win.”
City coach Michael Valkanis felt his side deserved all three points.
“I think we had them against the wall and completely dominated and the stats show that as well,” he said.
“We were always going to come here and try and dominate the game; that’s our style.
“But, unfortunately – one moment, a counter attack – and it was a goal.”
It was a bittersweet night for United fans, as Amor confirmed Holland will be leaving the A-League club and had played his last match for the Reds in the win.
Amor said Holland, who joined United for the current campaign, would be on his way to China as soon as the weekend.
The Socceroo had been the subject of much transfer speculation ahead of the market opening in January, with a potential move to Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin rumoured.
“Yes, he goes tomorrow or after tomorrow,” Amor said.
“The market is open now and this possibility is open and he goes to China.
“I don’t know if he signed or not signed in this moment, but I know that he goes.”
Amor also confirmed the club is looking at a number of players to replace Holland and bolster the Reds squad, but didn’t name specific targets.
There has also been speculation surrounding former Reds attacker Dario Vidosic, who is currently at Liaoning Whowin, returning to Adelaide.
“We are working on this (transfers) and we are speaking with the club,” Amor said.
“If it’s not clear or not true, it’s better (we) don’t speak about this (naming players).”
Regarding the win, Amor said it was a performance that proved his side doesn’t deserve to be at the bottom end of the table.
He was also pleased they were able to score a dramatic late winner after copping three injury time losses this season.
“I think that now we are not the best in the world, nor before we were the worst team in the A-League,” he said.
“In the last action we scored; normally this situation is all different and we receive (concede) the goal and today we scored the goal.”
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