Melbourne City has progressed to the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup on Tuesday night, defeating fellow A-League outfit Brisbane Roar after extra time in a tough battle over the 120 minutes.
A lone goal in the final minute of the extended period from Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli secured the result for City in a match that was marred by the neck injury to Luke Brattan sustained in the first half.
With a 40 minute delay in play to allow the safe exit to hospital for the midfielder, play resumed at the 36th minute where a tight tussle ensued until Fornaroli’s moment of brilliance.
City will replicate their 2017/18 Finals Series route in the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup as they face Newcastle Jets at home.
Warren Joyce elected to start with Eugene Galekovic in goal as Harrison Delbridge made one of his first appearances at full-back, replacing Scott Jamieson. Rostyn Griffiths made his debut for the club while Riley McGree found himself in an advanced position in the final third alongside Bruno Fornaroli and Lachlan Wales.
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City’s opening minutes in their first competitive match were somewhat nervy as Galekovic was called into action in the first minute. A header from former City man Stefan Mauk sprung the keeper into action, making a regulation save at the back post.
Brisbane looked to continue their early momentum while City were on the back foot, however the visitors were able to weather the storm, working their way into the pacey contest in Redcliiffe.
City’s first chance of the match fell to Riley McGree and much like his first match in City colours, the youngster looked to get on the scoresheet in his competitive debut.
Fornaroli’s neat hold-up play saw the Uruguayan play McGree through as his curling effort was finger-tipped around the post by Brisbane custodian Jamie Young.
The visitors continued to assert their dominance on the match as Wales, McGree and Fornaroli looked to combine in a dynamic front third trio that may be an option for Joyce for the upcoming season.
The game took at turn for the worse as Luke Brattan bravely put his head over the ball, seeing Mauk make contact with his head. With almost 40 minutes passing before appropriate treatment was delivered to the midfielder, Brattan was escorted from the ground via the ambulance as the match continued after the stoppage in play.
City began the second half much better than the first, attacking on the front foot against the Roar who looked set on hitting on the counter.
The ploy looked to be working for John Aloisi’s side as chances in the 61st and 65th minute went agonisingly close to opening the scoring for the hosts, mainly through the positive play of Mauk.
City were not done yet in the 90 with Fornaroli looking most likely to score however the deadlock remained at the end of regulation time to bring on 120 minutes.
There were tired legs aplenty throughout the added period as Brisbane thought they found their winner through the fresh legs of Daniel Leck. His clipped effort over Galekovic trickled wide as City breathed a sigh of relief.
But the most spectacular moment of the match came in the final minute of proceedings as Fornaroli flicked the ball up twice to himself on the edge of the area to bury his volley past Young in the Brisbane goal and secure his side’s passage to it’s fourth consecutive Round of 16 appearance.
City will host Newcastle Jets for the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup with the match likely to be held in the final two weeks of August. Match details will be confirmed in the coming days.