Melbourne City FC secured back-to-back A-League Men Premierships on Monday night with a 2-1 win in a tense encounter against Wellington Phoenix.
Two goals inside the first 11 minutes got City off to a perfect start, although the nerves certainly sunk in during the second 45 after Wellington were able to pull back through Ben Waine.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo made just one change to his starting XI from City’s last fixture, as Taras Gomulka replaced the suspended Curtis Good. This change meant that Rostyn Griffiths shifted to defence as Gomulka joined Connor Metcalfe and Marco Tilio in midfield.
The night couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for City, with Gomulka’s third minute corner finding the back of the net thanks to a header from Wellington’s Sam Sutton.
City continued to look dangerous in the early stages and it wouldn’t take long to double that advantage as the dream start continued.
It was again a Gomulka corner doing the damage, although this time it was Jamie Maclaren, on track for his fourth Golden Boot, who was able to head home from close range.
The visitors struggled to create chances as City looked to further ease the nerves in the crowd, going close to a third through a powerful Andrew Nabbout strike in the 28th that was well saved.
Maclaren had two chances to get his second of the night in the dying stages of the half, but was denied first by the post after a potent strike from long range, before his shot from a tight angle found the side netting not long after.
A couple of substitutions and a change of shape saw the visitors come out firing in the second stanza, forcing City to defend after having controlled the game for the majority of the first half.
Wellington would pull one back in the 54th minute thanks to a quality finish from Waine, which saw City in danger of dropping the all-important points needed to secure the Premiers Plate.
City had a couple of great sights at goal in the 66th minute through both full-backs – Scott Jamieson first seeing his effort blocked after a mazy run, then Carl Jenkinson forced a big save from Oli Sail seconds after.
Maclaren was once again denied his second of the night by the post, this time in the 70th minute, as he almost added another to his Golden Boot winning tally with a powerful strike from a tight angle.
It was a tense finish for everyone watching both at AAMI Park and in their lounge rooms at home as City looked to hold on to the lead it required to be crowned back-to-back Premiers.
Nuno Reis, Tom Glover and Jamieson all came up with some crucial moments in the dying stages, before the final whistle finally came and City were officially crowned Premiers for the second consecutive year.
City will begin its Finals campaign away from home midweek next week in the first leg of the Semi Final against either Adelaide, Central Coast or Wellington.
We’ll then play the second leg at AAMI Park on that weekend (either the 21st or 22nd of May) and will release full details and ticketing information as soon as we have them.