Melbourne City FC has picked up an important win in the A-League Men, securing a 3-1 victory against Macarthur FC at AAMI Park.
The visitors opened the scoring through Apostolos Giannou but the City boys hit back hard, replying first with an own-goal to level before Florin Berenguer and Jamie Maclaren built an insurmountable lead over the remainder of the 90.
There was plenty of team news when the lineups were released an hour before kick-off, with some big ins and outs for Patrick Kisnorbo’s side. Mathew Leckie was omitted from the squad after sustaining an injury against Perth Glory a week ago. Aiden O’Neill returned to the starting XI following a couple of weeks out due to a head knock against Central Coast, whilst Matt Sutton made his first league start of the season between the sticks.
Though the statisticians might count Lachie Rose’s first-time strike into Row Z after an early Sutton turnover, the first real chance of the game arrived in the 5th minute for Connor Metcalfe, who received in space at the edge of the area and was able to drive a shot at goal that screwed wide.
The City boys’ solid start was undone with an early goal concession however, with a 15th-minute Bulls set-piece recycled back into the box and smashed into the back of the net by Apostolos Giannou who was in the right place at the right time.
The City boys came close to an immediate equaliser twice in the ensuing five minutes, with Metcalfe and Andrew Nabbout both giving Bulls keeper Filip Kurto a fright.
Fortunately the home side’s persistence was rewarded with an own-goal in the 27th minute when Jamie Maclaren’s low, driven cross was turned into the back of the Bulls’ net by Adrian Mariappa.
The team’s frequent forays into the penalty area over the remainder of the half reflected how unlucky we were to be down in the first place, but that was rectified on the stroke of half-time when the boys netted their second through Florin Berenguer. A brilliant pass-and-move sequence from Nabbout saw the winger receive the ball inside the box and fizz in a cross which wasn’t dealt with initially, leaving City’s Frenchman to finish uncontested.
The late goal set City up perfectly to start the second half strong and the team’s lead was extended in the 55th when Maclaren converted from the penalty spot after Marco Tilio was brought down inside the area.
Maclaren couldn’t have come much closer to scoring City’s fourth in the 76th minute when he rattled the crossbar with a first-time strike following a ball in from the left.
That close call for the City #9 would prove to be the last big chance of the game, with Kisnorbo managing to squeeze in some minutes for a host of young players off the bench whilst comfortably seeing out the 3-1 scoreline.
The three points are huge for City as the team looks to keep the pressure on Western United at the top whilst also increasing its buffer on Macarthur. The boys will have the chance at securing an even more pivotal result on Saturday night when the team faces United in a top-of-the-table clash at AAMI Park.