A fixture notorious for producing goals, excitement and unpredictable results, Melbourne City FC will begin its Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season in New Zealand with an opening round fixture against Wellington Phoenix.
John van’t Schip’s side will travel to Westpac Stadium for its season opener on Saturday 8 October 2016, kick-off 5:35pm (AEST), in the first of the Club’s two trips across the Tasman for the campaign.
City will aim to continue its recent home dominance in this fixture when the Phoenix makes its sole venture to AAMI Park in Round 8, before returning to New Zealand for the last regular season meeting between the two sides in Round 18.
It is the third consecutive season in which City have played their opening fixture away from home, and historically speaking, there is no tougher venue to visit than Westpac Stadium.
City’s memorable Elimination Final success two seasons ago was only the Club’s second ever away win against the Phoenix, while Ernie Merrick’s side ran out 2-1 winners in the solitary fixture between the two sides in New Zealand last season.
Conversely, in the familiar surroundings of AAMI Park, it was a case of goals, goals and more goals for City.
van’t Schip’s men comprehensively swept aside a hapless Phoenix during a 5-1 demolition in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16; an attacking performance of the highest order which set the barometer for two comfortable home wins in the Hyundai A-League.
City’s acquisition of former Wellington defender Manny Muscat will add further fuel to the trans-Tasman rivalry, with the versatile defender set to line-up against his old teammates for the first time in Round 1 after making the move back home to Melbourne at the end of last season.
Previous Meetings – Hyundai A-League 2015/16 Season
City 5-1 Wellington – Round of 16 FFA Cup, Wednesday 26 August 2015
After a series of dominant displays during the pre-season, City booked its passage into the Quarter Finals of the Westfield FFA Cup with an attacking masterclass against the Phoenix.
The trio of Aaron Mooy, Harry Novillo and debutant Bruno Fornaroli combined to lethal effect for the first time in a competitive fixture, all finding the back of the net to fire City into a 3-0 lead at the break.
Wellington were given a sniff of hope when Roy Krishna lashed home the third of four penalties awarded by referee Lucien Lavedure on the evening, until Robi Koren and youngster Wade Dekker put the icing on the cake in a convicing display ahead of the new season.
City 3-1 Wellington – Hyundai A-League Round 16, Monday 25 January, 2016
On an historic day which saw City’s Women’s side book its spot in the Westfield W-League Grand Final, the Club’s Hyundai A-League contingent ensured the celebratory atmosphere remained at AAMI Park with another rampant attacking display.
Bruno Fornaroli got the ball rolling with his 13th goal of a remarkable debut season, while a superb Harry Novillo brace wrapped up all three points – despite a stunning consolation goal from Roly Bonevacia.
Wellington 2-1 City – Hyundai A-League Round 21, Friday 26 February, 2016
With top-spot on the Hyundai A-League table up for grabs, City travelled to Westpac Stadium with no greater incentive to claim all three points.
However the quest for a crucial away result got off to the worst possible start as quick-fire goals from Louis Fenton and Matthew Ridenton fired the Phoenix into an early two goal lead.
Midfield maestro Aaron Mooy responded with a deflected free-kick to cap off a pulsating opening 20 minutes, but City were unable to translate its subsequent dominance into a tangible reward as the Phoenix celebrated the club’s 10-year licence extension in style.
City 3-0 Phoenix – Hyundai A-League Round 25, Monday 28 March, 2016
It was yet another rendition of the Bruno Fornaroli show, as the Uruguayan etched his name into the A-League record books with a scintillating display to sink the Phoenix.
Fornaroli laid off a clever assist for Harry Novillo’s opening goal, before demonstrating calmness to fire home City’s second on the rebound from his initial penalty miss.
However, It was his second goal which brought the 9,895 crowd at AAMI Park to their feet, curling a magnificent effort past Glen Moss to become the first player to score 22 goals in an A-League season.
Fornaroli’s heroics capped off a memorable night, as City reinforced its tag as the premier attacking team of the competition by breaking an astonishing six league goal-scoring records.