Teenage superstar Nestory Irankunda received his first red card in A-League football as Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory scrapped their way to a 1-1 draw at AAMI Park.
The 17-year-old exploded at referee Alex King deep into stoppage time, earning himself a second yellow, following an earlier booking for a needless altercation with Victory midfielder Ryan Teague.
He had been mercilessly booed by the home fans for his part in an earlier sending off for Victory captain Roderick Miranda, who fouled him in twice in quick succession.
Eventually, the tension got to the teenager, who snapped and saw himself marched with seconds to play.
The result keeps Carl Veart’s men on top of the ladder – until Western Sydney Wanderers play tomorrow, at least – but he will view this as both a point gained and two points lost.
For an hour, his side were played off the park by the hosts, with Victory dominating prior to the first dismissal. Bruno Fornaroli scored and it should have been a lot more.
That the game was even in doubt by the time Miranda was sent from the field was only because of Victory’s wastefulness.
For an hour, they battered United, with the trio of Daniel Arzani, Zinedine Machach and goalscorer Bruno Fornaroli far, far too good in attack with Adelaide keeper Joe Guaci the only player to emerge with plus points.
They made enough to win two games and began to play as if they were several goals to the good, with flicks and tricks in the final third rather than incisive play.
From the start, Victory were on. Arzani has long been one of the most frustrating players in Australian football, but it was clear from the off that this was going to be one of the nights where he showed up.
The winger twice made chances early on for Nishan Velupillay, only for his winger to fluff his lines, twice found Daniel da Silva from corners, with the defender sending wide on both occasions and twice fired wide from range himself.
Victory were bossing the game, with only an Irankunda shot into the side netting coming the other way, and were great value for their lead when it came.
Machach was the architect, showing all of his strength and skills to create the goal. He drove down the left, holding his man off all the way, then showed plenty of awareness to pick out Fornaroli. He did the rest, as he has done so many times.
It didn’t stop there. Arzani rinsed his fullback to get to the byline, crossed dangerously and, again, Velupillay couldn’t finish.
The misses kept coming: Velupillay picked up on a Panashe Madanha mistake to spring a counter, before threading a pass for Fabien Monge. His shot was superbly saved by Gauci.
The break did nothing to stem the tide. The trio of Machach, Arzani and Fornaroli were running the show, but the second goal seemed inevitable.
The French midfielder had an opportunity at the back post but ford wide, before Arzani gave a fourth chance for Velupillay, who shot too close to Gauci. Fornaroli blazed the rebound over the bar.
Victory were putting on a show, but not making it count and when the sucker punch came, they hit the canvas hard.
Miranda picked up his first booking for bringing down Irankunda and, from the set piece, Ibusuki was able to extend a leg and equalise. Moments later, Miranda brought down Irankunda again and saw his night end early.
The chances kept coming late on. Chris Ikonomides, Bernardo, Giuseppe Bovalina and Ben Folami all had opportunities, with both goalkeepers coming up big to keep it level.
In the end, the drama came much further from the goal as Irankunda had the last moment the game, albeit in a manner that he might want back.