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Dec 09, 2023   |  1:27AM AET

ALM Report: Perth 1-2 City

ALM Report: Perth 1-2 City

Melbourne City was made to work hard but came away with all three points in Perth on Friday night.

Tolgay Arslan was on the scoresheet from the penalty spot in a first half that was heavily influenced by VAR, before a Mathew Leckie header midway through the second half proved to be the winner.

Team News

Aurelio Vidmar made two changes to his starting XI that defeated Newcastle last time out.

Alessandro Lopane returned in midfield, while Leckie made his long-awaited first start of the season.

Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).

Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 11. Leo NATEL, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 18. Jordon HALL, 37. Max CAPUTO.

What happened?

City were quick out the blocks but after a promising first few minutes, the game quickly descended into a possession-based contest, at least for the first 15 minutes.

Eyebrows were raised back home for City fans when Callum Talbot was shown a straight red card for a foul a long way from the box with defenders between himself and the goal, but it didn’t take long for VAR to step in and downgrade it to a yellow.

VAR would be the theme of the first half and it was called into action again in the 19th minute, awarding a Perth penalty after Leckie was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.

Thankfully though, Salim Khelifi struck the woodwork with his effort from the spot and the score remained 0-0.

Hamza Sakhi was one of City’s best in the first half and almost had us ahead in the 28th minute, catching Cameron Cook off-guard but only striking the post with his long-range attempt.

Less than 10 minutes later we had a third VAR intervention of the half and it was on our side, retrospectively awarding a penalty after Tolgay Arslan was pulled down in the box.

For the second time in nine days, it was Arslan himself to step up from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way to give us a 1-0 advantage.

Unfortunately, we’d hold it for less than 10 minutes, with a moment to forget at the back opening the door for Adam Taggart to find the equaliser.

The second half got off to quite a tame start with both teams trading spells of possession but before too long, the contest was back on our terms.

Sakhi and Arslan’s play in midfield was pivotal, while Aziz Behich didn’t stop working all night, going on run and run from the left side of defence.

The pivotal moment of the contest would come in the 66th minute, a pair of Socceroos linking up to score what would be the eventual winner.

A well-worked move saw Behich find some space on the left, the full-back then whipping in an inch-perfect cross to meet the run of Leckie, who timed his jump perfectly to rise high and flush his header into the back of the net.

There were some tense moments late, but a Jamie Young double save inside a minute and an important Curtis Good block ensured we’d see off the Glory pressure to come away with a well-earned three points.

What’s next?

The squad will return to Melbourne on Saturday morning to begin preparations for Tuesday night’s crucial AFC Champions League clash at Princes Park against Zhejiang.

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