Grand Final Match Report: City 0-2 Western United

Melbourne City FC suffered defeat in the 2022 A-League Men Grand Final, going down 2-0 to Western United at AAMI Park.

The damage was done early as the home team conceded in the 2nd and 30th minutes via a Nuno Reis own-goal and an Aleksander Prijovic volley respectively.

Starting XI

With so much pressure to get the starting lineup selection just right, Patrick Kisnorbo made just one alteration to the XI that defeated Adelaide United in the Semi-Final Second Leg. Rostyn Griffiths slotted into the lineup in place of Taras Gomulka, bringing valuable experience and steeliness to the base of City’s midfield.

What happened?

The contest got off to the worst possible start for City, with Western United finding the back of the net within two minutes. The visiting team earned an early corner and Nuno Reis was unlucky to loop a header into the side netting at the far post.

The City boys dominated the early possession after that, but failed to muster any meaningful chances, with the next big moment arriving for United in the 27th. A long ball for Prijovic was passed first-time across goal and appeared bound for a teammate’s head until Curtis Good got back to make the vital intervention and head away.

The Serbian continued to prove a real threat and eventually made the City defence pay in the 30th minute. Western’s second of the night again arrived fortuitously as a double ricochet enabled Prijovic to slip free on goal totally unmarked, volleying past Tom Glover who could do little to stop the strike.

Western’s dominance of the shooting opportunities continued in the 41st when Steven Lustica was rolled through on goal, but his strike from a narrow angle was well overhit and flew clear of the crossbar.

The City boys nearly had the dream start early in the second half when the crossbar was struck from a powered header following a 47th-minute corner.

Mathew Leckie then nearly scored a brilliant opener for City in the 60th when he was found over the top of the United defence with a long ball, taking an exquisite first touch that had Jamie Young beaten, but the Socceroo winger stumbled as he looked to strike into the back of an empty net.

Marco Tilio’s introduction in the 65th minute lifted the home crowd’s spirits and nearly preceded what would have been a timely strike for City.

Leckie’s lethal cross found Nabbout striding into the area, with the latter’s first-time strike forcing a sharp reflex save from Young.

City continued to be frustrated by the heroics of the United goalkeeper, with Young pulling out another incredible diving save to tip away substitute Galloway’s rocket from distance in the 80th. Seven minutes later, it would be Nabbout who was denied a good opportunity thanks to the 36-year-old’s secure hands.

The 90th minute presented a big opportunity for Galloway that was screwed narrowly wide of the post, but that would prove City’s final chance at salvaging a come-from-behind Championship win as Western United held on for a 2-0 victory.