Tim Cahill netted a brace as Melbourne City FC returned to winning ways at AAMI Park with a dominant 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners on Thursday night.
The Socceroos striker opened the scoring inside three minutes with a set-play straight out of the textbook, but the Mariners hit back only moments later through striker Roy O’Donovan.
Having fired his side back into the contest, O’Donovan dealt the visitors a cruel blow when he was dismissed for striking Michael Jakobsen midway through the first half.
City, who were the dominant force throughout, laid siege on the Mariners goal - which was well guarded by an inspired Paul Izzo - until Cahill completed his brace before half-time with a trademark header to give Michael Valkanis’ side a much needed three points.
Determined to bounce back from a disappointing reverse in Adelaide last week, City began the match brightly, attacking the Mariners defence with pace from the first whistle.
Two promising runs down the right from Ivan Franjic and Bruno Fornaroli both drew fouls from the under pressure Harry Ascroft; the second of which resulted in City’s first goal inside the opening three minutes.
It was a perfectly executed set piece which unlocked the Mariners defence.
With Colazo standing over the ball, the Argentine dummied his free-kick and allowed Luke Brattan to roll the ball along the carpet to an unmarked Cahill, who swept home past a static Izzo to make it 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Mariners restored parity only seven minutes later in an action packed opening to the match.
Connor Pain’s deflected cutback made its way to an unmarked O’Donovan just outside the six yard box, who finished coolly to level the scores.
Jakobsen then stung the palms of Izzo with a sizzling volley, until the Mariners were dealt a hammer blow on 23 minutes when O’Donovan received a straight red card for an elbow on the Danish defender.
City looked to press on with its numerical advantage as Fornaroli was only a whisker away from reaching Bruce Kamau’s cut-back.
Colazo went inches wide with an effort that beat Izzo and the post, while Neil Kilkenny stung the palms of the Mariners’ goalkeeper with a blistering strike that was beaten away to safety.
The Mariners were always going to be up against it with 10-men, and the pressure told only six minutes before half-time as Cahill fired City back into the lead.
It was that golden forehead which served City so well once again, as the Socceroos striker coasted in at the back post to nod home Brattan’s cross past Izzo to complete his double.
City could have further extended its lead on the stroke of half-time when Colazo nodded against the post, while Cahill missed a chance to seal his hat-trick, blazing the follow up over the bar.
The home side continued its attacking barrage in the second half, as Franjic forced Izzo into another smart save at the near post, before Colazo again rattled the woodwork with a drive from the edge of the area.
Izzo was in inspired form between the posts and prevented both Brattan and Fornaroli from adding a deserved third with two fines saves, but the damage was already done as City returned to the winners list with an important three points.
Man of the Match
Scoring both of your team’s goals will always put you in contention for man of the match. So prolific in-front of goal, Tim Cahill was the man of the moment once again with a well taken brace.
The Socceroos striker displayed composure to side-foot home the opener from a position where many a striker has blazed over the crossbar, while another trademark header took his tally to seven goals for the season.
Argentine Nicolas Colazo was also a constant thorn in the side of the Mariners defence, and could have easily claimed a double of his own on another evening, in what was an impressive attacking display.
It's a trip to Newcastle which is next on the agenda for City as Valkanis' side face the Jets next Friday at Hunter Stadium, before returning to Melbourne for another massive Melbourne Derby at Etihad Stadium.
Hyundai A-League - Round 16
Thursday, 19 January 2017
Melbourne City FC (Tim CAHILL 3', 39')
Central Coast Mariners (Roy O'DONOVAN 9')
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
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 84’), 11 Bruce KAMAU (27. Fernando BRANDAN 67’), 17. Tim CAHILL (12. Nick FITZGERALD 78’), 22. Michael JAKOBSEN, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 26. Luke BRATTAN
Substitutes not used: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 21. Ruon TONGYIK
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
Interim Head Coach: Michael VALKANIS
Central Coast Mariners: 20. Paul IZZO (GK), 2. Storm ROUX, 3. Scott GALLOWAY, 5. Harry ASCROFT, 6. Blake POWELL (13. Kwabena APPIAH-KUBI 71’), 7. Fabio FERREIRA (12. Trent BUHAGIAR 62’), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Roy O’DONOVAN (sent off 23’), 11. Connor PAIN, 16. Liam ROSE, 20. Paul IZZO (GK), 22. Jake McGING
Substitutes not used: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 14. Adam BERRY, 21. Michael NEILL
Yellow cards: Ascroft 20’, Powell 25’ Ferreira 37’
Red cards: O’Donovan 23’
Head Coach: Paul OKON