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Adelaide United took a giant stride towards an Asian Champions League final appearance after a second half demolition of Uzbekistan league leader FC Bunyodkor to win 3-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium last night.
Second half goals from midfielders Diego and Fabian Barbiero put Brazilian legend Zico’s side on the ropes after the first leg of their semifinal match-up in front of a record 16,998 fans.
Striker Cristiano confidently stroked in an 88th minute penalty to ensure Adelaide can even progress with a two-goal loss in the return leg in Tashkent on October 22.
Adelaide United swamped their more glamorous opponents after a nervous first half which failed to throw up many chances.
Home `keeper Eugene Galekovic easily kept out a tame Rivaldo free kick from 22 metres and another long drive from Djeparov in the 36th minute.
The only thing Brazilian World Cup superstar Rivaldo earned was jeers after clattering into Robert Cornthwaite in a wayward tackle.
Adelaide United’s own Brazilian connections swung into gear after the interval and secured the club’s most important win to date.
Midfielder Cassio crossed into the penalty area for Diego to coolly chest the ball down and volley sweetly past the Bunyodkor `keeper from close range for 1-0 in the 57th minute.
He also crossed to the far post in the 76th minute where captain Travis Dodd headed down into the six yard zone for Barbiero to rush in and head in his first goal for the club.
Adelaide kept their nerve better as Bunyodkor tried to react and caught their shellshocked opponents on the break again late as Cassio charged into the penalty area to be hauled down by his marker Kapadze.
In form striker Cristiano made no mistake with a sublime penalty for 3-0 to send the crowd wild.
Bunyodkor Chilean striker Jose Luis Villanueva was forced off with a leg injury in the first half.
Vidmar tagged his side’s undefeated ACL campaign to date “as good as it gets, as far as club football goes”.
He said at club level in Australia, it’s on par with the Socceroos making the World Cup finals.
“It’s a massive effort from the players and the club,” he said.
Vidmar said his players looked a little jaded in the first half and were outplayed.
“We just hung in there,” he said.
“We just had to change our game a little bit because they were getting so many players behind the ball.
“In the second half we decided to play a more direct game and we got joy out of that.”
Vidmar also warned the tie wasn’t over.
His counterpart Zico, however, was shattered by the 3-0 scoreline.
The Brazilian concede’s his side’s assignment is now a very tall order, despite playing at home.
“I was surprised at 3-0,” he said.
“If it was 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 (it would be okay) but 3-0 is surprising (and) not fair on us.
“It’s very hard for us now.”
Zico also praised Vidmar, saying he had a bright future as a coach.