SF Second Leg Match Report: City 2-1 Adelaide

Melbourne City FC has booked its place in the 2022 A-League Men Grand Final after defeating Adelaide United 2-1 following extra time of the Semi-Final’s second leg on Sunday afternoon.

After a 0-0 draw in the first leg played midweek, the second and decisive meeting between the teams was decided by Jamie Maclaren’s extra-time winner following goals to Zach Clough and Marco Tilio earlier in the afternoon.

Starting XI

There was just one change made from the team that faced Adelaide midweek, but it was a big one named by Patrick Kisnorbo. The City Head Coach was able to welcome Florin Berenguer back to the starting lineup for the first time since the April Melbourne Derby, with the Frenchman having missed six weeks of action since then.

What happened?

Whilst the City boys were lively early, the first big chance of the contest went the visitors’ way in the 15th minute as Kusini Yengi was clipped over the top and had the space to volley uncontested at goal. Fortunately for City, the striker’s execution was off the mark, blazing his shot well over the bar.

A lengthy delay followed that moment as Adelaide’s Juande stayed down for treatment following an Andrew Nabbout challenge, but it was the City boys who would threaten next with a chance in the 21st. United keeper Joe Gauci had to get down low quickly to cut off a dangerous cross bound for the feet of Jamie Maclaren inside the six-yard box.

In a tense moment for the home fans, Tom Glover came up big in the 28th when he had to make a save at full-stretch to deny George Blackwood’s headed effort from a set-piece.

The promising service to Maclaren continued in the 33rd when Nabbout’s cross from the right found the striker to chest down, but City’s #9 had the ball nicked off his toe by Gauci as he bared down on goal.

The Reds keeper then matched Glover’s impressive diving save with one of his own in the 38th, denying Nabbout’s rifled strike which appeared bound for the bottom corner.

The final action of the first half was close to being a decisive one for City, who were awarded a free-kick five minutes into stoppage-time. Taras Gomulka looped in a ball that Maclaren was able to flick on with his head, but Gauci was up to the task and claimed comfortably.

The City boys came so close to a dream start in the 46th, with Gauci’s spillage of Nabbout’s cross nearly affording a golden opportunity to Maclaren, but the ball was cleared away at the last second.

That moment would prove painful as Adelaide opened the scoring just two minutes later, with Zach Clough opportunistically looping a shot into the far corner, leaving Glover with no chance.

Connor Metcalfe kept City’s hopes alive in the 57th when he positioned himself well to head away Kusini Yengi’s close-range strike, rushing back to intervene on the goal line.

City’s dominance of the second-half possession resulted in surprisingly few chances for the home side, with our next opportunity not arriving until the 73rd via a meek Maclaren effort from a narrow angle that drew Gauci’s intervention.

Fortunately the stats – and logic – were thrown out the window a minute later when the shortest man on the field, substitute Marco Tilio, headed home for City, sending fans into raptures.

The Adelaide defence failed to deal with a cross in from the right and the ball snuck its way to the back post where the diminutive winger headed truly.

A pair of good City chances followed in the 84th and 85th minutes, with Tilio first forcing a good acrobat save from Gauci to tip the ball away from the top left of his goal. From the resulting corner, a City effort amongst a busy six-yard box flew narrowly over the bar.

Fans thought that the game had been won a minute later as Maclaren buried a one-on-one opportunity with poise, but the striker was ruled to have been offside.

An enthralling 90 minutes came to an end with the scores still locked at 1-1, so into extra time the game headed – and in emphatic fashion. Just two minutes in, Maclaren capitalised on a loose ball inside the Adelaide area to hand City a vital lead.

The City striker was teed up with a cross from wide just a few minutes later, with substitute Stefan Colakovski capitalising on a flowing team move to find his teammate for an off-target header.

The energetic City side continued to capitalise on a tiring Adelaide defence, with the pace of Colakovski wreaking havoc again in the 113th. The forward was played through wide and was able to find Maclaren centrally, with the striker’s on-target shot taking a deflection on its way through to Gauci.

The home side managed the game well over the remainder of the contest, buoyed by the raucous support of fans at the end they were attacking, with the final whistle sounding on a 2-1 scoreline.

What’s next?

A fourth and final meeting of the season with Western United awaits next Saturday night when the teams will face off to decide the 2022 A-League Championship in the Grand Final at AAMI Park.