Melbourne City FC bounced back to form with an impressive 3-2 win over Sydney FC in the Grand Final re-match.
City were in the drivers seat when it went up 3-0 in the 53rd minute thanks to a Jamie Maclaren brace and first half goal to Adrian Luna but the visitors ensured it would be a nervy ending for City fans, snatching two late goals.
The 15 day lay-off saw two changes to the City line up with Rostyn Griffiths and Andrew Nabbout returning from injury to take their spots in the centre of defence and wing respectively, replacing Nuno Reis and Naoki Tsubaki.
The home side put in arguably the most impressive half of any side this year in the opening 45 minutes, displaying some beautiful passing and exquisite forward movement to pull apart a Sydney side that struggled to retain the ball in the opening stanza.
It took City just 8 minutes to make their mark on the scoreboard as Nabbout forced the ball into the box, finding Adrian Luna whose shot stung the palms of Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
The A League’s number one poacher Jamie Maclaren was there to fire the rebound home and give City the lead.
Play stopped for a short period as former City midfielder Luke Brattan copped a knock to the head and saw his night over and the home side picked up where it left off.
A curling effort from Nabbout was saved by Redmayne, however City’s following attack saw Craig Noone take the ball wide and place the ball on a silver platter for Adrian Luna who finished coolly to establish a two goal buffer.
Florin Berenguer and Nabbout in particular shone in a first half that was as easy on the eye as any you’ll see.
City made an equally impressive start to the second half and it was a gorgeous diagonal ball from Connor Metcalfe, playing one of his best games for the Club, that released Andrew Nabbout who was able to jink his way past the defence and cut back to Maclaren to finish at close range.
The marksman went dangerously close to completing his hattrick just minutes later, firing over the bar after another beautiful exchange with Noone.
Adrian Luna’s withdrawal and the introduction of Milos Ninkovic for the away side marked a change in the match as Sydney began to work their way into the game from that point and were able to pull goals back through Ninkovic after 71 minutes and youngster Patrick Wood on the 90.
City remained calm on the ball through the final minutes however and were able to negotiate the stoppage time comfortably, recording a crucial three points in what was a genuine team performance.
City will look to made to back-to-back wins next Tuesday night when it travels to Bankwest Stadium to take on Western Sydney, before returning to Melbourne for the first Derby of the season.