Melbourne City FC has strengthened their position in the Hyundai A-League top-three with a 2-0 win over Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Tuesday night.
Ross McCormack opened the scoring in the ninth minute with an emphatic set-piece strike, before doubling City’s lead and securing his brace from the penalty spot in the 38th minute.
Following Tuesday night’s mid-week fixture, City will look to extend their winning streak when they head to Central Coast Stadium on Sunday to face the Mariners, before returning home against Adelaide United at AAMI Park on Sunday, 21 January.
Head Coach Warren Joyce made two changes to the starting XI that defeated Wellington Phoenix 2-1 on Saturday night.
Attacker Daniel Arzani was rewarded for his match-winning display against the Phoenix, replacing Nick Fitzgerald on the wing – the 19-year-old’s first senior start for City.
After making his City debut off the bench on Saturday night, Harrison Delbridge was also named in the starting line-up, making his first start for Joyce’s side in place of right-back Manny Muscat.
Bruce Kamau, Stefan Mauk and Ruon Tongyik remain on international duty with the Australian U23’s.
Just three days after their 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park, City travelled to Western Australia to face Perth Glory with a chance to shore up their current position in the top four.
In warm conditions at nib Stadium, it was the side from Melbourne that gained the early ascendency.
City’s attacking intent was on display in the opening stages, as Nathaniel Atkinson set off on a storming run down the right wing inside three minutes. The 18-year-old fired a dangerous ball across the box looking for Ross McCormack, but Liam Reddy was first to the ball.
Two minutes later Warren Joyce’s side came close to finding the opener as Scott Jamieson found McCormack, before the Scotsman produced a delightful deft chip to Dario Vidosic in the box. Despite Vidosic’s desperate efforts to meet the pass, Reddy was quick off his line to deny the visitors.
On nine minutes, City’s early dominance would prevail as Daniel Arzani dispossessed Jeremy Walker on the right wing before attacking the box and drawing three Glory defenders, Alex Grant eventually clattering into the 19-year-old on the edge of the area.
Both McCormack and Michael Jakobsen stood over the set piece, which looked to favour the Dane. But it was Ross the Boss who stepped up and made no mistake with a magnificent dead ball strike that curled over the wall from the tightest of angles beating Reddy at his near post.
City’s opener looked to have sparked the home side into action, as Kenny Lowe’s team responded with three solid chances.
The first of those chances fell to Diego Castro, the Spaniard picked up the ball inside the box before cutting back onto his right boot and eluding Atkinson in the process. Despite creating space inside the box, he fired the Glory’s first chance on goal well over the crossbar.
In the 22nd minute Jakobsen fouled Adam Taggart on the edge of the area, Castro drilled the resulting free-kick low and hard beating everyone but Dean Bouzanis in goal.
Three minutes later Andy Keogh was denied from close range, after a desperate Luke Brattan blocked his shot on goal.
Despite Perth’s solid response to going down, their defence looked vulnerable when Arzani attacked at pace. The youngster was causing Lowe’s side several headaches with his quick feet, and on 36 minutes he earned his side a spot kick when he skipped past Walker and was fouled by Andreu.
McCormack stepped up to the penalty spot, before sending Reddy in the wrong direction and drilling the ball into the shot stopper’s bottom left-hand corner – the Scotsman registering his 12th goal for the season.
Much like the first-half, the high tempo of the match continued in the opening stages of the second period as the game began to open up.
City’s first chance came 10 minutes into the half when Brattan found Arzani in the box. The youngster stepped over the ball teasing the defence, before switching onto his left boot and firing a shot well over the crossbar.
Bouzanis was called into action in the 62nd minute when Xavi Torres tried his luck from range, but the keeper was equal to the task parrying the ball away confidently.
Three minutes later City’s defence was again tested when Castro found his captain on the left wing, Keogh then cut inside before placing a well-weighted ball across the box. Taggart made a solid run into the area but he was accidenty bundled over, allowing Joyce’s side to clear the ball.
Torres had another strike from 20 yards, but his effort was well stopped by a diving Bouzanis.
Second-half substitute Nick Fitzgerald added a flash of pace and creativity to the attacking third in the final stages.
With 10 minutes remaining, the winger picked up the ball on the left-wing before attacking Walker, checking inside onto his right boot, and blasting a shot at goal over the crossbar. A carbon copy of his first effort, Fitzgerald would have the last chance of the game in the 92nd minute when his fierce strike was deflected behind for a corner by Grant.
City next face Central Coast Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday, which will be their third match in eight days – before returning home to face Adelaide United at AAMI Park in a blockbuster doubleheader with our Women’s side on Sunday, 21 January.