Match Report: United City 0-3 Melbourne City

Melbourne City FC completed its AFC Champions League Group Stage fixtures with a 3-0 win over United City in the early hours of Sunday morning (AEST).

A first half Raphael Borges Rodrigues goal was followed by second half Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio strikes, although it wasn’t enough to secure City automatic qualification to the Round of 16, despite remaining undefeated.

City will now need Vissel Kobe to defeat Kitchee SC on Sunday evening to see it progress to the knockout stages.

Starting XI

Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo made six changes for his team’s final fixture of the Group Stage. Nuno Reis returned from suspension, while Scott Galloway joined him in defence making his first appearance since February after suffering injury troubles.

Jordon Hall, Stefan Colakovski, Tsubasa Endoh and Raphael Borges Rodrigues all returned to the XI, with plenty of firepower named on the bench if called upon.

What happened?

City started the clash strongly but despite that, couldn’t create many clear cut chances in the early stages of the contest.

A Stefan Colakovski cutback in the 18th minute could’ve presented the opener but nobody was in the box to tap it home.

Thankfully for City fans, just four minutes later in an almost identical sequence, Borges Rodrigues was there to find the back of the net from close range and make it 1-0.

The two Scott’s; Jamieson and Galloway, looked lively bombing forward from full-back, but despite this and City controlling much of the possession, it couldn’t create any more distinct scoring chances for the remainder of the half.

City faced an uphill second half battle, requiring four goals to secure automatic qualification to the knockout stages.

Although it may’ve been mistakengly been called a goal kick, Jordon Hall came up with a big block in the 57th minute to deny Hikaru Minegishi a chance to equalise.

Kisnorbo rangs the changes not long after, bringing on Socceroos Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout as City searched for more goals – and it would take less than ten minutes for those changes to make an impact.

Springing the offside trap thanks to a Nabbout through ball, Maclaren got one-on-one with the keeper and finished coolly to double City’s advantage.

Just minutes later, Maclaren was again causing trouble for United City defenders, with Alan Robertson bringing down the Melbourne striker in the box and being shown his marching orders as a result.

Unfortunately for City fans, Maclaren couldn’t complete the double as he blasted the resulting penalty into the crossbar.

Not deterred by the missed opportunity, City continued to press on for more goals but it was a case of too little too late when it would eventually find the back of the net again.

Maclaren was able to add an assist to his earlier goal, teeing up Marco Tilio in the 90th minute who would make no mistake from close range.

What’s next?

All eyes turn to Sunday evening’s clash between Vissel Kobe and Kitchee SC, with a win to the aforementioned side meaning City will progress to the Round of 16.

City will come home from Bangkok via Perth, returning to A-League Men action against the Glory on Wednesday night as it looks to secure a second Premiers Plate in as many seasons.