Melbourne City FC have moved top of the Hyundai A-League table with a stirring 3-1 win over league leaders Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
On a cold and windy evening at AAMI Park, City found themselves a goal down at the interval courtesy of a stunning Dimitri Petratos strike, before turning the match on its head with a rampant second-half display.
Momentum firmly swung in City’s direction minutes after the break when Brisbane defender Jack Hingert conceded a penalty and received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Aaron Mooy made no mistake from the spot to level the scores, before late goals to Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald sealed a memorable comeback and kept City’s hopes of achieving Premiers Plate’ glory alive.
The result leaves City top of the league table with 41 points, equal with both Brisbane and Western Sydney but superior on goal difference. Adelaide United or the Wanderers could move into first place when they do battle on Saturday.
van’t Schip kept his faith in the same starting XI which secured a memorable away win against Adelaide United last week, with the only inclusions to the match day squad being Anthony Caceres and Marc Marino, who came in for Jason Trifiro and the injured Wade Dekker.
Knowing a win would be enough to surge into top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder, City flew out of the blocks, with Ivan Franjic and Aaron Mooy both forcing Brisbane 'keeper Jamie Young into smart saves inside the opening 10 minutes.
A sweeping City move saw Mooy go awfully close to scoring with a stinging drive that sailed over the crossbar, while Patrick Kisnorbo’s free header endured the same outcome as van’t Schip’s men continued to threaten in attack.
Brisbane eventually settled into the contest and had its first sight on goal in the 17th minute, when defender Corey Brown fired an effort which just curled wide of Thomas Sorensen’s left hand post.
The Great Dane did just enough to turn a swerving long range effort from Corona around the post, but was left with absolutely no chance minutes later as Petratos stunned the home crowd with a sensational opening goal.
Latching on to a corner cleared by the City defence, Petratos expertly controlled the ball with his thigh, before picking his spot with a scorching effort which flew past Sorensen into the top corner.
Nick Fitzgerald was industrious on the right flank and crafted another glorious chance with a brilliant cross in the 29th minute, only for the barnstorming Zullo to send his flying header over the crossbar.
City started to make some headway after the interval and after a somewhat subdued first-half, it was no surprise to see Fornaroli at the heart of the home side’s attacking play.
Only a superb diving save from Young prevented Fornaroli’s inventive flick from finding the bottom corner, before the Uruguayan broke the game wide open with a combination of strength and skill.
Faced with Jack Hingert on the touchline, Fornaroli used brute strength to bullock his way into the box, before being upended inside the penalty area by the young defender - who received his marching orders for his second yellow card of the night.
It was Aaron Mooy who strolled to the penalty spot, sending Young the wrong way with an emphatic penalty to level the scores.
City seized control following its numerical advantage and laid siege on Brisbane’s goal in search of a winner. Mooy rattled the post with a free-kick from an acute angle, before forcing Young into a spectacular save from a trademark long-range thunderbolt.
The trio of Mooy, Fornaroli and Harry Novillo ran a resilient Brisbane defence ragged with some dangerous interplay in the final third, until Caceres finally ended the visitor’s resistance nine minutes from time, heading a pin-point cross from Franjic into the bottom corner for his first City goal.
Fitzgerald put the icing on the cake with City’s third goal only three minutes later, reacting quickest to head home past a static Young after Fornaroli’s free-kick crashed off the crossbar, as John van’t Schip’s side capped off a memorable come-from-behind win.
Hyundai A-League Round 24
Saturday, 5 March 2016
Melbourne City FC 3 (Aaron MOOY 54’[PEN], Anthony CACERES 81’, Nick FITZGERALD 84’)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Dimitri PETRATOS 22’)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Melbourne City FC line-up: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2. Alexander WILKINSON, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 8. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO, 11. Michael ZULLO (Anthony CACERES 74’), 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27. Nick FITZGERALD, 33. Osama MALIK
Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 25. Jacob MELLING, 26. Marc MARINO,
Yellow cards: Novillo 26’, Franjic 33’
Red cards: nil
Brisbane Roar line-up: 21. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 5. Corey BROWN, 7. CORONA (Tommy OAR 85’), 9. Jamie MACLAREN, 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Matt MCKAY, 19. Jack HINGERT, 22. Thomas BROICH (Shane STEFFANUTO 57’), 23. Dimitri PETRATOS, 28. Brandon BORRELLO (HENRIQUE 70’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Michael THEO (GK), 8. Steven LUSTICA,
Yellow cards: North 27’, Hingert 45+1, Hingert 53’ Bowles 58'
Red cards: Hingert 53’