Melbourne City FC has secured a crucial three points with a dominant 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Bruno Fornaroli opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, as Daniel Arzani’s brilliance inspired the home side to a dominant first-half performance.
Michael Jakobsen’s thumping header in the 57th minute gave City a 2-0 cushion, before Stefan Mauk sealed the win in the 67th minute following a scintillating combination with Fornaroli.
City will look to extend their unbeaten run when they play Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Easter Sunday, before returning to Melbourne to host Central Coast in their last home game of the season on Saturday, 7 April.
Head Coach Warren Joyce made no changes to the starting XI or squad that drew 1-1 against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium last weekend, a first for his side this season.
From the onset, City’s attacking intentions were clear in their must-win clash against the Wanderers.
In greasy conditions at AAMI Park, the home side’s first chance of the game came in the fifth minute when Oliver Bozanic whipped in a cross from the left. Wanderers shot-stopper Vedran Janjetovic spilled the cross, which fell to Stefan Mauk on the edge of the six-yard box, but Michael Thwaite was quick to react clearing his effort off the goal line.
City continued to press Josep Gombau’s side, and on the 10th minute mark the home side almost found the break through. Dario Vidosic produced a perfectly weighted cross, which was met by Bozanic following his intelligent diagonal run into the box, although the midfielder’s volley was safely collected by Janjetovic.
Two minutes later, Western Sydney had their first burst forward, which was quickly shut down by City’s organised defensive third. Chris Ikonomidis opted for a shot when he received the ball just outside the area, but Luke Brattan was quick to close down his effort.
Just as he has done for much of this season, Daniel Arzani sparked a flurry of chances for Warren Joyce’s side in a blistering spell for the home side.
The first of those chances came in the 14th minute when the 19-year-old skipped past Thwaite before playing a dangerous cut back looking for Bruno Fornaroli. Fortunately for the Wanderers, Lustica did well to intercept Arzani’s cross and deny the Uruguayan striker a shot on goal.
Arzani again produced a breathtaking run, this time skipping past Roly Bonevacia, Llorente and Thwaite before picking out Fornaroli superbly at the back post. Despite the brilliance of the youngster in the lead up, Fornaroli’s powerful header was just wide.
In the 27th minute, Vidosic came agonisingly close to handing the home side a 1-0 lead. Arzani whipped in a cross from the left, but Vidosic’s downward header was tipped over by a scrambling Janjetovic. Three minutes later, it was Arzani again troubling the Wanderers defence – the youngster forcing Janjetovic to palm the ball behind for a corner following a fierce strike from 20 yards.
City’s dominance grew as the first-half progressed, yet the home side struggled to capitalise on their dominance and in the 41st minute they went inches away from having to rue their missed opportunities. Western Sydney earned their first corner for the evening, which was met by Spanish forward Oriol Riera, whose header hit the crossbar.
Despite going inches away from conceding the opener, Joyce would be proud of the way his team responded.
Less than a minute after Riera’s effort, City produced a brilliant counter attack that led to the opening goal. Nathaniel Atkinson went on a tremendous run through the middle of the park before passing the ball out to Arzani on the right-wing, the 19-year-old then played a ball into penalty box which fell to Fornaroli, who made no mistake with a definitive finish past Janjetovic.
The striker’s first goal from open play since his return from a long-term ankle injury handed City a crucial 1-0 lead at the break.
With a finals birth on the line, the Wanderers were fast out of the blocks in the second period. Four minutes into the second-half, Mark Bridge played a well-weighted ball into the box looking for Riera, but Michael Jakobsen was equal to the task producing a brilliant defensive header to deny the Spaniard.
Just as they did in the first period, City responded immediately to the attacking threat posed by the away side. Fornaroli had a great chance to double his tally - and the home side’s lead - when he was found at the back post by the lethal left boot of Scott Jamieson, although Janjetovic comfortably saved his header.
City continued to control the ascendency and the contest, and in the 57th minute they doubled their lead when captain Michael Jakobsen produced a brilliant header. Arzani laid off a short corner to Brattan, who whipped in a fierce cross, which was met by Jakobsen’s powerful header – the captain’s first goal in 41 games handing City a vital 2-0 cushion.
10 minutes later Joyce’s men would make it 3-0, following a flawless combination between Fornaroli and Mauk. The midfielder found Fornaroli on the edge of the box, before the Uruguayan produced a superb return back-heel to Mauk, whose finish was perfectly tucked into the bottom corner sending the home fans into raptures.
City face Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Easter Sunday, kick-off 5:00pm (AEDT), before returning to AAMI Park to host Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, 7 April, kick-off 7:50pm (AEDT).