Melbourne City began 2024 with three points thanks to a pair of world-class strikes in the second half against Western United.
Trailing 1-0 at the break, Hamza Sakhi and substitute Terry Antonis pulled out a couple of moments of magic to earn us three points.
Aurelio Vidmar was forced into one change to his XI with Aziz Behich away on international duty.
Callum Talbot made his return to the line-up and Scott Galloway moved across to the left side of defence.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 11. Leo NATEL, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 18. Jordon HALL, 37. Max CAPUTO, 38. Harry POLITIDIS, 46. Ben MAZZEO.
City began the evening brightly, Curtis Good playing Jamie Maclaren in over the top with our captain firing a warning shot on target from a tight angle in just the second minute.
We grabbed a hold of the momentum with Leo Natel involved in plenty down the left-hand side and Hamza Sakhi controlling the middle of the park.
The opener would come for Western against the run of play in the 13th minute though, a brief lapse in defence allowing Angus Thurgate to tee up Michael Ruhs for a back post header.
We’d see the momentum go back and forth for the remainder of the first half, although we managed to get on top in terms of general play for the final 10 or so minutes.
Alessandro Lopane had our best chance of the half in the 37th minute when Natel found him, but the young midfielder made things a little too easy for Western goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle who pulled off a good save to deny him.
We bounced back quickly from what was a disappointing opening 45 minutes, beginning the second half well.
It didn’t take long to get back on level terms either, Sakhi netting his first City goal to equalise just seven minutes after the break.
Tolgay Arslan’s corner saw an attempted Western clearance fall perfectly for the Morrocan midfielder, who took a moment to set himself before using the outside of his boot to strike the ball perfectly into the top corner.
Facing his old side for the second time, Jamie Young was forced into some big saves – most impressively from Lachie Wales and Daniel Penha.
These moments would prove to be pivotal, keeping us on level terms as we entered the final stages of the contest.
In a scene not too dissimilar from our first goal, Western wasn’t able to effectively clear the ball from an 83rd-minute set-piece.
This allowed Curtis Good to poke a pass to Antonis on the edge of the area who was alert to the situation, reacting immediately and firing a right-foot half-volley into the top corner of the net.
Seven minutes of stoppage time was seen out professionally and we saw out the three points.
Up next, we’ll make the trip to Sydney for the inaugural A-Leagues Unite Round.
We’ll face Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night in a clash that kicks off at the slightly later time of 8:15pm. Click here for full ticketing details.