Melbourne City suffered just its second defeat of the season on Saturday night, going down 3-2 to Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
City equalised once through Mathew Leckie after going down early in the first half but despite Leckie again finding the back of the net in the second 45, it wasn’t able to grab a share of the points.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic made a handful of changes to the XI that prevailed in a high scoring affair against Perth a week ago.
After several appearances off the bench, City star Florin Berenguer was named in the starting XI at the expense of Valon Berisha.
Callum Talbot and Marco Tilio also returned to the starting side, with captain Scott Jamieson and Andrew Nabbout shifting to the bench.
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, 10 Florin BERENGUER, 23. Marco TILIO, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN.
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON (C), 14. Valon BERISHA, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Jordon HALL, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES.
City controlled possession early but it was Victory who would open the scoring through new signing Damian Da Silva who headed home from a corner in the 7th minute.
City then quickly lifted the intensity, beginning to stamp its authority on the contest.
As City pressed hard for an equaliser, Marco Tilio threatened down the right wing, firing off a shot from the edge of the box that was deflected behind for a corner in the 23rd minute.
From that corner, the ball spilled out to Richard van der Venne, who with seemingly all the time in the world, weighed up his options in the box before delivering the ball on a platter for Leckie to head into the back of the net.
It would then be one way traffic for the remainder of the first half, with City piling on a number of chances in front of goal while limiting Victory’s impact in the final third.
Back in the starting side for the first time this season, Berengeur injected himself into the contest in the 38th minute, providing a pinpoint pass to Jamie Maclaren that almost put City ahead.
While he quickly opened up space in front of goal, Maclaren’s powerful shot was directed straight at the body of Victory keeper Paul Izzo who came up with the save to keep scores level heading into half time.
Despite a strong finish from City to the first 45, Victory hit the front once again straight after the resumption of play through Bruno Fornaroli.
After that early goal, Tom Glover came up with a couple of big moments in front of goal to keep City right in the hunt.
The ball ricocheted around in the box from an opposition corner and fell straight at the feet of three Victory jerseys, with Glover making himself large to deny an almost certain goal from point-blank range in the 70th minute.
Down but not out, City continued to pepper the Victory defence with a number of shots, only to ultimately come unstuck on the counter with Josh Brillante scoring from a deflection in the 77th minute.
City had a response of their own only moments later, with Leckie bursting onto a loose ball on the edge of the box before firing it past Izzo at his near post in the 80th minute.
City kept throwing numbers forward in search of a late equaliser but despite putting plenty of pressure on the Victory defence, it wasn’t able to find a way through in those dying stages.
City will host Sydney FC next Saturday in what was be just its second home fixture of the month. Click here to get your tickets!