Melbourne City has been eliminated from the Hyundai A-League Finals Series, after suffering a 2-0 loss against Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
Two first-half goals to Diego Castro and Joel Chianese gave the visitors a 2-0 lead by the half hour mark, stunning the home side and the 9,944 fans at AAMI Park.
The result means City’s 2016/17 A-League season concludes, with Perth progressing at City’s expense to the penultimate round of the Finals Series next weekend.
Melbourne City Head Coach Michael Valkanis made one change to the starting line up from the previous week’s 5-4 thriller in Western Australia against Perth, bringing in 20-year-old defender Ruon Tongyik into defence at the expense of midfielder Luke Brattan.
The change allowed defensive utility Osama Malik to occupy a shielding role in City’s midfield three, which included the combative Neil Kilkenny and attacking Tim Cahill.
City started brightly with a period of positive possession, but failed to covert that possession into anything meaningful to test Liam Reddy’s goal within the first 15 minutes.
Glory on the other hand created and converted its first chance of the match on 16 minutes, as a piercing through ball was controlled brilliantly by Perth’s Andy Keogh on his chest, before the Irishman released Spaniard Diego Castro on the left.
Glory’s marquee cut in from the left and curled past Dean Bouzanis to open the scoring.
City pressed for a quick equaliser and looked to open Glory’s tight back line through a cleverly worked free kick, with Bruno’s header back toward the penalty area dangerous, but cleared.
Unfortunately for City, Perth struck again on the half hour mark, as Joel Chianese this time cut in from the left and buried a low shot to double the West Australian side's advantage.
Glory continued to threaten through quick breaks and Keogh nearly profited from Chianese’s cross from the right, but volleyed straight at Bouzanis.
Chances were few and far between for City despite a frantic first half, with both teams entering the sheds at 2-0 down and with some pondering to do.
City looked to change things up after the break, with Nick Fitzgerald and Luke Brattan entering the fray for Bruce Kamau and Ruon Tongyik, with the aim to make up the deficit.
Inside a minute of the restart, Colazo whipped in corner and Cahill flashed a header an inch wide of Glory’s upright, before Brattan sailed a left-footed effort over Reddy’s bar as City looked to shift momentum.
Glory went for the opposite tactic, withdrawing attacking midfielder Richard Garcia 20 minutes into the second half and replacing him with defensive player Rhys Williams, before brining Chris Harold in for goal-scorer Chianese.
City gained momentum around the 70th minute mark as Glory sat back, with Michael Jakobsen’s powerful long-range drive blocked bravely by Dino Djullbic’s head, before Fornaroli cut inside brilliantly and forced a sensational low save from Reddy with 10 minutes to play.
Fitzgerald snatched at the follow up, which could have proved to be City’s final chance to claw themselves back into the contest.
Franjic produced another wonderful save diving save from Reddy in the dying seconds with a stinging volley, but the damage was already done as City missed an opportunity to progress to its third consecutive Semi Final.
Hyundai A-League – Elimination Final
Sunday 23 April 2017
Melbourne City FC 0
Perth Glory 2 (Diego CASTRO 16', Joel CHIANESE 30')
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Chris Beath
Melbourne City FC: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 3. Josh ROSE, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Osama MALIK, 8. Neil KILKENNY. 9. Nicolas COLAZO (10. Anthony CACERES 71’), 11. Bruce KAMAU (12. Nick FITZGERALD 46’), 17. Tim CAHILL, 21. Ruon TONGYIK (26. Luke BRATTAN 46’), 22. Michael JAKOBSEN, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI (C)
Substitutes not used: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 14. Daniel ARZANI
Head Coach: Michael VALKANIS
Perth Glory: 33. Liam REDDY (GK), 3. Marc WARREN (15. Brandon WILSON 79), 6. Dino DJULBIC, 7. Joel CHIANESE (14. Chris HAROLD 69’), 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (C), 9. Andy KEOGH, 11. Richard GARCIA (5. Rhys WILLIAMS 66’) 17. Diego CASTRO, 19. Josh RISDON, 22. Adam TAGGART, 26. Lucian GOIAN
Substitutes not used: 13. Nicholas FEELY, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 15. Brandon WILSON
Head Coach: Kenny LOWE