Melbourne City got back to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday evening.
Looking to get one back on the side that was responsible for its first defeat of the campaign, a first half brace to Jamie Maclaren and a stunning Marco Tilio solo goal put City in the driver’s seat for the majority of the contest.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic made one change to the starting XI that took on Melbourne Victory last week.
Mathew Leckie was missing due to a hamstring injury, which saw Valon Berisha make his return to the line-up
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 4. Nuno REIS, 6. Thomas LAM, 38. Jordan BOS, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 14 Valon BERISHA, 23. Marco TILIO, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Jordon HALL, 37. Max CAPUTO, 36. Kerrin STOKES, 39 Emin DURAKOVIC.
Despite missing arguably its best-performed player so far this season, City immediately clicked into gear and looked dangerous early.
Sydney struggled to get into the game, with City dominating possession and threatening in and around Andrew Redmayne’s goal.
City didn’t have to wait long before one of those chances resulted in the ball flying into the back of the net, with Jamie Maclaren putting City ahead in the 5th minute.
A nice interchange of passes through the midfield saw the ball eventually fall at the feet of Florin Berengeur, who provided the perfect cross into the box where three City jerseys were lining up in front of goal.
Always alert in and around the box, Maclaren got his head to the ball first to register his 16th goal of the season.
Only a few moments later it was Marco Tilio who added yet another stunning goal to his resume.
A strong tackle on the edge of the City box from Callum Talbot stripped Sydney of possession and it was from there that Marco Tilio went on a dazzling run from one end of the pitch to another.
With the ball on a string, Tilio breezed past some passive Sydney defence all the way to the edge of the box where he unleashed a strike with plenty of power which took a slight deflection on its way into the back of the net.
After that moment of Tilio magic, City was forced to withstand some defensive pressure of their own before Richard van der Venne had a chance in front of goal, his header sailing over the bar in the 27th minute.
From the ensuing goal kick, Sydney got a goal of their own with Robert Mak pulling one back to make it 2-1.
City wasted very little time in ensuring that conceded goal was a mere blip on the radar, with its two previous goalscorers combining to hit back in the best possible fashion.
Tilio burst onto a ball in the box and then threaded it through the outstretched legs of two Sydney defenders to find Jamie Maclaren, who lashed a strike into the back of the net from point-blank range in the 31st minute.
With Jordan Bos happy to push up and provide an extra number moving forward, City continuously found joy down the left wing, getting in behind the Sydney defensive line on a number of occasions.
The visitors for a moment thought they had hit back through former City midfielder Anthony Caceres in the 42nd minute, but the goal was quickly disallowed with the offside flag raised.
In first half stoppage time, Tilio won a free kick but after trying to take it quickly while still lifting himself off the AAMI Park turf, the ball was turned over to Sydney who took off towards goal.
Fortunately, Nuno Reis got back and put in a strong challenge to dispossess Mak as he looked to cut back, ensuring City went into the sheds with a two-goal buffer.
With that two goal City lead, the second half didn’t provide quite the same spark we saw in the first.
As the rain tumbled down, Vidosic turned to his bench with Andrew Nabbout coming on and taking the captains armband from Maclaren.
Redmayne pulled off a number of superb saves across the second half to prevent the City attack from adding another goal to its tally.
Attempts from Valon Berisha and Nabobut in the 85th and 90th minute respectively were thwarted before Sydney would score a late consolation goal through Diego Cabello in the 97th minute.
That would prove to be virtually the final kick of the game, with the scores reading 3-2 at the full-time whistle.
City will now turn its attention to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium next Friday. Following that, it will return home to host Brisbane Roar on Sunday 12 March.