The Red hit the front early through skipper Travis Dodd and when the Japanese club were reduced to ten men it looked like it would be all over.
But Sanfrecce hit back with force, scoring twice to take the leade before Adelaide netted two late goals to grab all three points and keep their 2010 campaign unblemished.
Asian Champions League Match Day 3
Adelaide United: 3 (Travis Dodd 11’, Robert Cornthwaite 79’, Cassio 83’)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima: 2 (Kazuyuki Morisaki 55’, Issei Takayanagi 76’)
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
Yellow cards: AU - Travis Dodd 45’, Nigel Boogaard 90’
SH - Ryota Moriwaki 30’
Red cards: SH - Ilian Stoyanov 32’
For the first time this campaign, Adelaide were classed as favourites going into the match and they began with confidence, producing plenty of forward advances with the best early opportunity falling to defender Iain Fyfe whose close range header slipped wide of the mark.
The Reds got their reward in just the 11th minute when Argentine midfielder Marcos Flores flicked a cross into the area and skipper Travis Dodd was on hand to glide a header into the back of the net to continue Adelaide’s good form so far in the ACL.
Sanfrecce commenced to fight their way back into the contest with some forward action of their own but did not really do enough to trouble Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic.
Moments later, Sanfrecce keeper Shusaku Nishikawa was called on to produce a couple of handy saves when the Reds attacked with full force and the former Oita Trinita shot-stopper was equal to the task, denying Sergio van Dijk and then Dodd in quick succession.
A great chance fell to captain Hisato Sato in the 26th minute after a good ball into the area but it was a disappointing finish which rolled into the path of Galekovic who was waiting with open arms.
Just after the half-hour mark, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Bulgarian defender Ilian Stoyanov was sent from the pitch for bringing down Leckie just outside the area but as the last defender illegally stopping a goalscoring opportunity, the referee had no hesitations in producing the red card.
The Reds were free to attack even more after Stoyanov’s exit but couldn’t put one past Nishikawa at the end of the half and the first 45 minutes ended 1-0 to the home side.
Adelaide continued on their merry way in the opening minutes of the second half and came very close to a second when Leckie surged forward but he was forced to the byline and his shot from an angle was knocked away to safety.
For all of Adelaide’s chances, they found themselves on level terms ten minutes after the re-start when Kazuyuki Morisaki drilled home a left-foot shot after a poor Robert Cornthwaite clearance which stunned the Hindmarsh crowd and brought the visitors right back into proceedings.
This was the point that swung the momentum of the match the way of Sanfrecce who were in search of an unlikely winner and causing some nervous moments for the Reds who had fallen into a hole after a free-flowing first half.
In the 76th minute, the Japanese side hit the front when substitute Issei Takayanagi got on the end of a Koji Morisaki free-kick and his header had Galekovic rooted to the spot, giving Sanfrecce an unthinkable lead.
Almost instantly down the other end, Cornthwaite made up for his earlier error when he nodded home a Scott Jamieson cross to make it 2-2 with just over ten minutes remaining.
And the Reds got themselves back in front in the 83rd minute when Cassio struck a free-kick from way outside the area and the deflection from the wall gave Nishikawa no chance, sending the Adelaide fans into raptures.
The match really opened up after the fifth goal and it looked like either team could score again but that wasn’t the case and the Reds held on to their narrow lead to make it three wins from three group stage outings whilst Sanfrecce Hiroshima remain at the foot of Group H with no points.
Eugene Galekovic (gk), Robert Cornthwaite, Iain Fyfe, Daniel Mullen, Lucas Pantelis (71’), Mathew Leckie, Sergio van Dijk, Travis Dodd (c) (87’), Scott Jamieson, Michael Marrone, Marcos Flores (71’)
Subs: Mark Birighitti (gk), Cassio (71’), Fabian Barbiero (71’), Nigel Boogaard (87’)
Shusaku Nishikawa (gk), Ilian Stoyanov (red card 32’), Satoru Yamagishi (86’), Koji Morisaki, Kazuyuki Morisaki, Masato Yamazaki (46’), Hisato Sato, Koji Nakajima, Ryota Moriwaki, Tsubasa Yokotake, Kota Hattori (70’)