Melbourne City has booked its spot in the 2023 A-League Men Grand Final in emphatic fashion, defeating Sydney FC 4-0 on Friday night to clinch the series 5-1 on aggregate.
A red card shown to Sydney FC’s Max Burgess in just the 20th minute put City in total control for nearly the entire contest, with City’s attack clicking into gear and punishing the Sydney defence on the scoreboard.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic made three changes for the second leg of the Semi Final, with Aiden O’Neill returning to the starting XI after missing the first through injury.
Thomas Lam and Andrew Nabbout also got the call up back into the starting lineup, with Florin Berenguer, Callum Talbot and Richard van der Venne reverting to the bench.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 4. Nuno REIS, 6. Thomas LAM, 22. Curtis GOOD, 38. Jordan BOS, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 14. Valon BERISHA, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 23. Marco TILIO, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 25. Callum TALBOT, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 37. Max CAPUTO.
City looked the more energetic of the two outfits from the first whistle, orchestrating some nice play in the build up that saw the ball camped down in Sydney’s half for the opening 10 minutes.
The game turned on its head in the 20th minute when Sydney’s Max Burgess was shown a red card after his poorly judged tackle collected Marco Tilio. Fortunately, Tilio wasn’t badly injured and was able to play on.
City almost exposed Sydney from yet another set piece, with Maclaren coming close to giving City its first half lead in the 28th minute, his header denied only by the upright.
City continued to threaten down its left flank, Tilio and Bos using their fast feet to cause all sorts of headaches for the Sydney defence, producing a handful of dazzling runs into the box.
We would eventually be rewarded for our first half dominance, Curtis Good placing himself in the perfect position to head home from a Valon Berisha corner in the 37th minute.
City started the second half much like the first, dominating possession and chances after the break and able to create a number of shots on target that forced stops from Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
City’s dominance was eventually reflected on the scoresheet, Andrew Nabbout’s ball into a dangerous area resulting in a Sydney FC own goal, with Jack Rodwell the guilty party that gifted City a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute.
Aiden O’Neill then pinched the ball like a thief in the night just shy of halfway, and set off down the pitch before releasing Tilio who fired it home from the narrow angle less than ten minutes later to seal the result.
The party continued at home for City, this time it was City’s favourite Dutchman, Richard van der Venne, curling it into the top left corner to make it 4-0 in the 82nd minute and add an exclamation mark to a dominant performance.
All eyes will be on the second leg of the other Semi Final between Adelaide and Central Coast tomorrow night to see who our opponent in the Grand Final will be.
Stay tuned for ticketing and travel information.