Melbourne City FC booked its spot in the Hyundai A-League Semi-Finals after a superb double from Bruno Fornaroli sealed a 2-0 win over Perth Glory on Sunday evening.
With a boisterous crowd of 11,273 flocking to AAMI Park for the Club’s first ever home final, the Uruguayan netted a superb bicycle kick and free-kick either side of half-time to fire City into the last four of the Finals Series.
Fornaroli’s genius in the final third was matched by the industry of Aaron Mooy in midfield, while the experience of defenders Alex Wilkinson and Patrick Kisnorbo curbed the influence of dangerous duo Diego Castro and Andy Keogh on the way to an important clean sheet.
City now head to Coopers Stadium on Friday night, where the Club will face newly crowned Premiers Adelaide United for a place in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
Head Coach John van’t Schip made three changes to the side that faced Adelaide in the final round of the regular season. The absence of Ivan Franjic saw the Dutchman opt for a new full-back pairing in Paulo Retre and Jack Clisby, while Ben Garuccio pushed forward to replace the suspended Harry Novillo on the left wing.
In perfect conditions for football, City started the brighter of the two teams and controlled possession early on against a Glory outfit content with defending deep and absorbing pressure.
City’s first clear sight on goal came in the 10th minute when Garuccio found Fornaroli inside the penalty area with a neat driven cross, but the Uruguayan could only blaze an instinctive volley over the crossbar.
Fornaroli and the lively Anthony Caceres were causing havoc amongst the Perth defence in the opening stages, while goalkeeper Ante Covic demonstrated his alertness to claim Nick Fitzgerald’s cross from the feet of Aaron Mooy.
It took a sharp reflex save from Thomas Sorensen to prevent Josh Risdon’s deflected cross from creeping in at the near post, while Mooy stung the palms of Covic in the 14th minute with a blistering free-kick.
City had the ball in the back of the net only minutes later as Fornaroli found the bottom corner after escaping the attention of three Perth defenders, but the goal was chalked off as Garuccio was deemed to have interfered from an offside position.
But the Uruguayan had the crowd on its feet in the 40th minute with a strike worthy of winning any football match.
With the Glory defence slow to react to a bouncing ball inside the penalty area, the Uruguayan’s predatory instincts took over, using the opportunity to hold off Josh Risdon and launch a spectacular overhead kick past a static Covic and into the top corner.
Trailing by a goal at the break, Perth missed a golden opportunity to level the scores shortly after the restart when Sorensen parried a fierce cross from Marc Warren into the path of Sandor, who could only blaze his effort high and wide of the target.
As the Glory pushed numbers forward in search of an equalizer, City posed a greater threat on the counter attack and Mooy came close to doubling his side’s advantage with a swift break, only for his curling effort to sail just wide of the target.
Eventually, it was the sheer class of Fornaroli that provided City with some breathing space, curling in his second goal for the night – and 25th of a remarkable A-League season – in spectacular fashion.
After drawing a foul on the edge of the area from Marc Warren, Fornaroli picked his spot and drilled a perfectly executed free-kick into the bottom corner, with the goal sparking joyous celebrations amongst the City faithful.
Risdon came close to reducing the deficit only moments after the goal with a neat run and dribble, only for the defender to direct his effort high of the right hand post.
But the result was well and truly sealed by that point, as City now turns its attention to a crucial Semi-Final showdown next Friday night.
Hyundai A-League Elimination Final 2
Sunday, 17 April 2016
Melbourne City FC 2 (Bruno FORNAROLI 40’, 76’)
Perth Glory 0
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Chris Beath
Melbourne City FC line-up: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2. Alexander WILKINSON, 8. Aaron MOOY, 18. Paulo RETRE (Connor CHAPMAN 80’) 19. Ben GARUCCIO (Marc MARINO 74’), 22. Jack CLISBY, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27. Nick FITZGERALD, 29. Anthony CACERES (Jacob MELLING 68’), 33. Osama MALIK
Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 3. Aaron HUGHES,
Yellow cards: Mooy 34’, Kisnorbo 52’
Red cards: nil
Perth Glory line-up: 1. Ante COVIC (GK), 2. Alex GRANT (Dino DJULBIC 46′), 3. Marc WARREN, 4. Shane LOWRY, 7. Gyorgy SANDOR, 9. Andrew KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 14. Chris HAROLD (Richard GARCIA 68’), 17. Diego CASTRO, 19. Joshua RISDON, 23. Krisztian VADOCZ (Kosta PETRATOS 82’)
Substitutes not used: 12. Jerrad TYSON (GK), 18. Mitchell OXBORROW,
Yellow cards: Harold 14’, Lowry 33, Castro 39’, Garcia 73’
Red cards: nil