ALM Report: City 1-2 Western

Melbourne City has suffered defeat to open the A-League Men’s season, going down 2-1 to Western United at AAMI Park.

Tolgay Arslan quickly answered after Western initially went ahead, but a late penalty saw City on the wrong end of the result.

Team News

Rado Vidosic named a strong line-up for his team’s season opener, with injured wingers Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout the only notable absences from the teamsheet.

Two changes were made from the City side that last took to the pitch and defeated Zhejiang in China. Alessandro Lopane and Callum Talbot both made their returns at the expense of Max Caputo and Samuel Souprayen.

Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 4. Nuno REIS, 22. Curtis GOOD, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).

Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 11. Leo NATEL, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 35. Zane SCHREIBER, 37. Max CAPUTO.

What happened?

The contest began with plenty of end-to-end football as both teams were able to create some early half-chances.

Hamza Sakhi and Tolgay Arslan both settled into life in the A-Leagues well and excited fans with some lovely balls from midfield and some smart interplay.

The latter showed he wasn’t afraid to shoot from outside the box either, stinging the palms of Thomas Heward-Belle with a powerful shot from long range in the ninth minute.

The centre-back duo of Nuno Reis and Curtis Good were as reliable as ever for City, while Aziz Behich did a mountain of work at left-back after only having returned from national team duty days ago.

City looked to have the opener in the 34th minute when Jamie Maclaren was in the right spot at the right time to tuck away the follow-up after Sakhi’s shot was initially well saved, but VAR would eventually intervene due to the City Captain being offside by the slightest of margins.

It was again Maclaren going agonisingly close to finding the opener minutes after the second half got underway, forcing a fantastic save out of Heward-Belle after he was found by Arslan.

New Western United signing Daniel Penha did the damage right on the hour mark, playing a smart ball to Lachie Wales who found the opener against the run of play.

The lead would stand for just two minutes though as Vidosic’s side quickly found a reply.

Arslan went on a run through the Western defence and after receiving it back from a quick one-two with Maclaren, placed it past the goalkeeper to equalise.

City quickly got back on top following the goal, once again controlling possession and pinning the visitors back.

Leo Natel was introduced to the City faithful for his long-awaited debut in the 73rd minute, immediately getting the crowd going with his quick feet and willingness to run at defenders.

Despite City having the momentum for the majority of the final half hour, a penalty call against Nuno Reis just before full time would eventually decide the game, with Noah Botic stepping up to convert in the 87th minute.

What’s next?

Your City boys will depart for Thailand tomorrow for a mid-week AFC Champions League clash against Buriram United, before returning to Australia and A-League Men’s action to face Adelaide United away from home next Sunday night.