Melbourne City FC held off a late Adelaide United rally to secure their first three points of the 2019/20 season with a 2-1 win at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
A quick-fire double from in-form striker Jamie Maclaren saw Erick Mombaerts' men take a 2-0 advantage into the break, before a Riley McGree strike in the second-half looked to spark the Reds.
City held firm to secure their first win of the season and will be looking to make it back-to-back wins over Adelaide when the two teams battle it out for the FFA Cup trophy on Wednesday night at Coopers Stadium.
Head Coach Erick Mombaerts made four changes to the starting XI, with Jamie Maclaren returning to the starting team following his stint with the Socceroos.
Rostyn Griffiths, Ramy Najjarine and Richard Windbichler all started, replacing Curtis Good, Adrian Luna and Javier Cabrera.
In perfect conditions for football, City returned to AAMI Park for their first home fixture of the 2019/20 season.
It took less than 90 seconds for the hosts to showcase their attacking intent as Lachie Wales played through a delightful ball which was met by Ramy Najjarine. Making his starting A-League debut, Najjarine looked to find Craig Noone at the far post only for his cross to fizz past the oncoming attacker.
In the seventh minute, it looked as though Najjarine had found the opener, as he latched onto an effort inside the area only for Paul Izzo to rake the ball back off the goal line and into his grasp.
City would continue to press forwards and were rewarded for their attacking intent when the returning Jamie Maclaren continued his red-hot run of form in front of goal. A scramble in the box following Connor Metcalfe's deflected strike fell to the attacker, who showed great composure to take a touch and slide the ball past Izzo and into the back of the net on the 24th minute mark.
Just four minutes later, Maclaren had his second, doubling City's advantage when he pounced on well-worked set-piece. A short corner was played to captain Scott Jamieson, who whipped in a dangerous cross, falling to Maclaren at the back post.
It took until the 39th minute for the Reds to have their most threatening chance of the first-half. A swift counter saw the ball played to Michael Maria at the far post, although his desperate effort could only find the side netting.
City continued their attacking dominance in the early stages of the first half as chances fell to Metcalfe and Maclaren alike.
Unable to convert, City conceded down the other end of the pitch as an inability to clear the ball from their defensive 18-yard box saw former City attacker Riley McGree fire the ball into the bottom corner - leaving Dean Bouzanis with no chance.
McGree's 67th minute goal seemed to spark the visitor's into action. Moments after pegging a goal back, McGree had a golden opportunity to find his second, only to blaze the ball across the face of goal. Second-half substitute Nathan Konstandopoulos then tried his luck from range, but Bouzanis was equal to the task.
Adelaide had one final chance to find an equaliser following a goalmouth scramble in the first minute of extra-time, although Bouzanis pounced on the ball to secure the three points for the hosts.
City’s focus now turns to a massive FFA Cup Final clash with Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday 23 October, before returning home to take on Western United at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday 27 October in Round 3, kick-off 6:00pm.