Melbourne City FC has won its first senior Men’s trophy after an intense 1-0 win over Sydney FC in the Westfield FFA Cup Final at AAMI Park on Wednesday night.
Socceroos striker Tim Cahill continued his penchant for scoring match-winning goals, breaking the deadlock with a trademark header just after the interval in-front of a record Westfield FFA Cup crowd of 18,751.
With the season’s first piece of silverware up for grabs, both sides showed they meant business during an explosive opening period. Tempers flared after just three minutes as Luke Brattan’s late challenge on Michael Zullo saw both sides engage in a heated exchange.
City were fired up right from the get go and the first chance of the match fell to Cahill, who got on the end Nicolas Colazo’s expert set-piece yet nodded his header just wide of stranded Sydney ‘keeper Danny Vukovic.
The visitors were content with sitting back and attacking on the break but struggled to penetrate a resolute City defence, with centre-backs Michael Jakobsen and Osama Malik solid through the middle.
A piece of wizardry from Bruno Fornaroli nearly saw Fernando Brandan net the opening goal after 25 minutes in what was City’s best chance of the opening half.
The captain drew the attention of three Sydney defenders before cutting back to Fernando, who could only sky his effort over the bar with the aid of a deflection.
After a frantic opening half hour the game somewhat settled as both sides shared an even amount of possession, yet the intensity was as high as ever.
The visitors enjoyed a promising period towards the end of the first half as Bobo manufactured some space to unleash a stinging drive, only for it to whiz straight into the arms of Dean Bouzanis.
The frenetic rhythm of the match carried on into the second half as both sides ramped up the pressure in search of the opening goal.
Sydney manufactured their best chance of the match only minutes after the restart, as Alex Brosque showed expert control to bring down a difficult ball but couldn’t find a way past Bouzanis from 10 yards.
A missed opportunity it would turn out to be as City had one hand on the FFA Cup trophy only moments later.
The script couldn’t have been written any better for Cahill. The Socceroos striker rose highest to meet Ivan Franjic’s cross, before powering his header past Vukovic to fire City into the lead.
Jakobsen was a commanding figure in the heart of defence throughout the match but made his most telling contribution in the 71st minute, showing brilliant awareness to clear Bobo’s cross-goal header off the line
The visitors kept on pushing in search of the equaliser as Brosque fired a promising opening high and wide from outside the 18-yard box, while Fitzgerald tried his luck from distance but was thwarted by Vukovic.
Fernando had a chance to put the icing on the cake four minutes from time after Fitzgerald skinned the tiring Michael Zullo on the touchline, only to be denied by a superb low save from Vukovic.
Little did it matter, however, with the final whistle sparking scenes of ecstasy on the sidelines as City celebrated its first piece of Men’s silverware.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Tim Cahill has a pretty handy scriptwriter when it comes to scoring goals in important matches, and tonight was no different as the Socceroos striker etched his name into the history books with the all-important winning goal.
It was trademark in every sense. A soaring leap to latch on to Ivan Franjic’s cross; a power header past Danny Vukovic, and a swaying corner flag after yet another iconic goal celebration.
The goal proved to be Cahill’s final involvement of the evening after succumbing to a knee injury during a clash with Josh Brillante, but the pain will certainly be eased in the wake of City’s historic triumph.
Man of the match
Another game, another outstanding performance from Bruno Fornaroli.
The Uruguayan was a complete handful for the Sydney defence from start to finish, wriggling and writhing his way out of challenges and using his strength and quick feet to good effect.
It was another captain’s display from Fornaroli, who was rewarded for his efforts by winning The Mark Viduka Medal for his man-of-the-match performance.
Westfield FFA Cup Final 2016
Wednesday 30 November, 2016
Melbourne City FC 1 (Tim CAHILL 53’)
Sydney FC 0
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Peter Green
Melbourne City FC: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Osama MALIK, 8. Neil KILKENNY, 9. Nicolas COLAZO, 11. Bruce KAMAU (Nick FITZGERALD 84’), 17. Tim CAHILL (Anthony CACERES 61’), 22. Michael JAKOBSEN, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 26. Luke BRATTAN, 27. Fernando BRANDAN
Substitutes not used: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Connor CHAPMAN
Head Coach: John VAN’T SCHIP
Yellow cards: Brattan 3’, Fitzgerald 89’
Red cards: nil
Sydney FC: 20. Danny VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 5. Matthew JURMAN, 6. Joshua BRILLANTE, 7. Michael ZULLO, 9. BOBO, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 13. Brandon O’NEILL (David CARNEY 72’), 14. Alex BROSQUE, 21. Filip HOLOSKO (Matt SIMON 62’), 23. Rhyan GRANT
Substitutes not used: 30. Mitch EVANS (GK), 4. Alexander WILKINSON, 8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC
Head Coach: Graham ARNOLD
Yellow cards: O’Neill 26’, 88’ Carney
Red cards: nil