Melbourne City FC has been knocked out of the FFA Cup following their 2-1 Quarter Finals defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers opened the scoring through Oriol Riera in the 33rd minute, before the away side doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time following an opportunistic effort from Roly Bonevacia.
Riley McGree fired home a brilliant effort from the edge of the penalty box in the 53rd minute, but it proved to be merely a consolation goal as the Wanderers progressed to the Semi Finals of the competition.
In perfect conditions for mid-week football at AAMI Park, it was City who created the first chance of the match as Bruno Fornaroli picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area before firing it straight down the throat of Daniel Nizic in the Western Sydney goal.
The Wanderers looked to respond quickly as Keanu Baccus’ forceful drive from 20 yards took a wicked deflection leaving Eugene Galekovic helpless in goal. Luckily for the ‘keeper and the home side, the ball fizzed out for a corner.
In what proved to be a nervy opening 10 minutes for both sides with turnovers aplenty, Lachlan Wales looked threatening down the right-wing beating Llorente with ease on multiple occasions, before Galekovic’s diving effort denied Roly Bonevacia from close range.
With both sides struggling to gain the ascendency, City had a golden chance to take the lead in the 13th minute when Josh Risdon handled the ball inside the penalty area. Up stepped Bruno Fornaroli, but his penalty attempt was inches wide of the left upright.
Two minutes later, Warren Joyce’s side were on the attack again as Wales’ bright start to the match continued. The youngster found space in behind the Wanderers defence before finding Fornaroli inside the 18-yard box with a delightful cross. The Uruguayan looked to finish first time, but his effort scraped the outside of Nizic’s left upright – a welcome sight for the stranded ‘keeper.
Despite City’s continued dominance, Western Sydney had a chance to open the scoring against the run of play following a delightful set-piece in their attacking third. A combination of short passes, the Wanderers’ attempt beat everyone including their own attackers, before being scrambled away by a desperate City defence.
Moments later the Wanderers counter attacking intent was clear as Oriol Riera was found at the back post by Alexander Baumjohann, but the striker’s effort was skied over the cross bar.
In the 29th minute, City had another chance to open the scoring. This time it was Rostyn Griffiths who found Wales on the edge of the area with a looping ball, before the winger found Fornaroli with a first time cross, but his header sailed just over the cross bar.
City would live to rue their missed opportunities in the 33rd minute as the Wanderers opened the scoring through Riera. The Spaniard again combined with Baumjohann, meeting his corner with a glancing header that left Galekovic with no chance.
In the 41st minute the side from Western Sydney would go on to double their lead as Roly Bonevacia pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area, making no mistake from close range and securing the Wanderers a 2-0 buffer at the break.
Down 2-0 heading into the second period, City looked to pile on the pressure early and get themselves back into the knockout tie. Despite winning two early corners, the home side failed to capitalise before Bart Schenkeveld was forced to make a solid block to deny Baumjohann from point blank range.
In the 53rd minute City were eventually rewarded for their dominance in the attacking third. Wales again beat Llorente on the right-wing before sliding the ball through to Fornaroli, his effort was denied by a desperate Wanderers defence and cleared for a corner.
It was from the resulting corner that City would make it 2-1 and claw their way back into the contest as the ball fell to Riley McGree on the edge of the area, who blasted the ball into the top corner with a brilliant strike.
City looked desperate to find an equaliser as McGree’s attacking role became more prominent and Ritchie de Laet looked to make his Club debut in the midfield replacing Dario Vidosic.
In the 73rd minute, City’s push to find the back of the net saw them earn two successive free kicks. First Nathanial Atkinson was fouled, as Luke Brattan’s resulting set piece found Griffiths whose header took a deflection. Then Fornaroli stood over the dead ball from 25 yards, but his effort was fired into the Wanderers defensive wall.
With four minutes of regulation time remaining, McGree would again test Nizic with a low drive that was headed for the bottom corner but the shot stopper was equal to the task as City were forced to exit the competition.
City will now spend the next month preparing for our Round 1 clash with Melbourne Victory in the Melbourne Derby.