There were plenty of positives to take out of Melbourne City FC’s narrow 1-0 defeat against sister club Manchester City in the Gold Coast on Saturday night.
A stunning volley from Samir Nasri in the 86th minute secured victory for the English Premier League giants, as Manuel Pellegrini’s men were given a testing workout in front of 21,811 fans at CBus Stadium.
Michael Lynch of The Age believes Melbourne City FC coach John van’t Schip had “plenty of reasons to be cheerful” following a credible showing against their much-fancied opponents, proceeding to highlight the standout performance of Frenchman Harry Novillo.
“His [van’t Schip’s] collection of youngsters, debutants and trialists proved themselves a decent match for one of the world's biggest teams,” Lynch said. “Several performed well including Frenchman Harry Novillo, signed permanently after a loan deal last season, who indicated that he could make more than a nuisance of himself when the next season kicks off in October.”
Melbourne City FC had two golden opportunities to open the scoring against their City Football Group compatriots – the best of which fell to young midfielder Stefan Mauk, who will have a few restless nights after his unfortunate open goal blunder.
van’t Schip was diplomatic afterwards, praising Mauk’s ability to be involved in the build-up of the chance, but he couldn’t help but raise a smile over the missed opportunity.
"I think Stefan will have a few moments in his bed in the coming nights when he will think back [to the miss]," he said.
"Those are the moments you hope never to have. On the other hand, Stefan was there, he made a great run into the box but in the moment it bounced and he was unlucky with his touch."
Meanwhile Marco Monteverde of the Courier Mail praised the A-League side’s resolute defensive effort against a Manchester City outfit littered with a host of world class players.
“In the big brother versus little brother clash, it was Manchester City who looked the better. That was hardly surprising considering their starting team included star trio Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri, as well as a more than able supporting cast,” Monteverde said.
“But try as they might, the English Premier League giants could not get the better of their plucky A-League siblings until the final five minutes when Nasri blasted a shot past goalkeeper Tando Velaphi.”
Monteverde also singled out the performance of goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, who impressed between the posts in his first appearance since signing a new two-year deal with the Club.
“Velaphi was among the Melbourne side’s better performers, making a handful of saves to keep the Citizens at bay until he was beaten in the dying stages.