Two second half goals from Al Jazira saw Melbourne City FC lose its opening match of its Abu Dhabi tour at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday night.
In the first match of Melbourne City”s 12-day training camp in Abu Dhabi, second-half goals to the home side saw City emerge without the win, but with pride intact with the A-League side creating a number of chances and matching it with the UAE Arabian Gulf League leaders.
While a breakthrough was not forthcoming for City, a number of chances fell to the visitors.
But a classy finish from Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic – who had a penalty saved by Melbourne City FC ‘keeper Andrew Redmayne in the opening minutes – and an unfortunate own goal, proved the difference between the two sides.
Both teams exchanged further chances with Damien Duff and Aaron Mooy forcing saves from Al Jazira keeper Khaled Al Seinani, who registered a fantastic performance, with long-distance efforts while Duff also dragged an early chance wide of the target.
Melbourne City named a strong starting line-up for the match, with Erik Paartalu a notable omission, while Singaporean defender Muhammad Safuwan bin Baharudin started in defence for City.
Baharudin is attending the Club’s training camp in Abu Dhabi from January 10 until January 19 as part of a development opportunity arranged with the Singaporean Football Association.
Al Jazira meanwhile fielded a side which boasted former Juventus and AS Roma striker Vucinic and contained livewire Argentiean midfielder Manuel Lanzini.
It was Vucinic and Lanzizi who combined for the opening chance of the match, with Vucinic cushioning a cut-back from the right into Lanzini’s path in Melbourne City’s penalty area.
Lanzizi, who proved a handful for Melbourne City, wriggled through a crowded area before jinking past captain Patrick Kisnorbo, who caught the dynamic midfielder’s trailing leg and brought him down for a spot kick.
Vucinic stepped up to convert, but Redmayne guessed correctly, diving to his right to keep the effort out and the scores level.
City didn’t take long to fashion a good chance of its own, with Mate Dugandzic advancing down the left wing in the 8th minute and providing a cutback for Duff to strike towards goal, but his execution was slightly off and the chance went low and wide of the target.
Marquee Robi Koren then blasted a swerving effort wide, before Duff curled a shot on target but Al Seinani collected comfortably.
Lanzini, a gifted player with the ball at his feet, was a slippery customer for Melbourne’s midfield, illustrating an array of tricks but Al Jazira struggled to find the final ball to Vucinic to make an impact.
Mooy was the next to test Al Seinani with a dipping left-footed strike from distance for Melbourne, but again the effort was saved by the Al Jazira stopper, who had a busy, but impressive evening between the posts.
The home side finally found a way through in the second half when Vucinic latched onto a superb through ball, brought it down with a beautiful first touch and slammed home the match opener past a helpless Redmayne.
Al Jazira doubled its lead in the 73rd minute when Redmayne came out to punch a cross clear, but the ball ricocheted off Kisnorbo and into the net, under heavy pressure from Al Jazira’s forward players.
Redmayne sustained a nasty knock in the process, but recovered to see out the match.
Numerous substitutions for both sides disrupted the flow of the match and Mooy and Vucinic exchanged shots from distance, without troubling either ‘keeper.
Sunday 11 January 2015
Al Jazira 2 (Mirko Vucinic 58’, OG 73)
Melbourne City FC 0
Venue: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium