Melbourne City FC have soared into second place on the Hyundai A-League table after a comprehensive 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix on Monday night.
On a day in which City’s Women’s team booked its spot in the Westfield W-League Grand Final, John van’t Schip’s side dazzled the 10,825 strong crowd at AAMI Park with a devastating display of attacking football.
Golden Boot leader Bruno Fornaroli got the ball rolling after 12 minutes with his 13th goal of a remarkable debut season, while a superb double to Harry Novillo wrapped up all three points for the home side – despite a stunning consolation goal from Roly Bonevacia.
Novillo and Fornaroli were virtually unplayable at times and demonstrated why they are one of the most damaging partnerships in the competition with another lively display in attack, while Aaron Mooy took full control of the midfield alongside impressive debutant Anthony Caceres.
City fans were treated to witnessing all three of the Club’s latest signings in action, with Nick Fitzgerald and Osama Malik also making their debut in City colours off the substitute’s bench.
Head Coach John van’t Schip made two changes to the side that started in the 2-2 draw against Perth Glory in Round 15, with Ivan Franjic replacing Paulo Retre at right back, while midfielder Caceres made his City debut in place of the suspended Jack Clisby.
It was another bright and energetic start from John van’t Schip’s men as City flew out of the blocks with a sight on goal inside the opening five minutes, with defender Michael Zullo forcing Phoenix ‘keeper Glen Moss to tip a rasping drive over the bar after a lung busting forward run.
City looked threatening with every forward incursion and with a player of Fornaroli’s quality leading the line, it was no surprise when the striker broke the deadlock with a sensational piece of skill after 12 minutes.
Receiving the ball on the edge of the area, Fornaroli displayed a bit of cheek by slipping the ball through the legs of Manny Muscat, before curling a sensational effort past Moss and into the far corner of the net for his 13th goal of the season.
The Uruguayan was in the mood to cause mayhem and had the crowd on its feet with an outstanding rabona pass into the path of Erik Paartalu, whose drilled shot was brilliantly saved at close range by Moss.
City keeper Thomas Sorensen was largely untroubled throughout the first half but had to be alert to prevent Wellington from levelling the scores in the 20th minute, showing sharp reflexes to smother a downward header from Andrew Durante at the near post.
Wellington were firmly pegged back in the defensive third as City continued to attack the visitors in waves. Fornaroli was only a whisker away from tapping home a driven cross from Novillo, while Ivan Franjic saw his cutback blocked by a desperate Vince Lia before rattling into the side netting.
But City were soon in full control of the contest, breaching the Phoenix defence once more with a superb team move on the hour mark. An inch perfect cross from the lively Zullo found Novillo inside the box with precision, with the Frenchman nipping in at the front post to turn the ball home past Moss to double the advantage.
A nervy moment from Sorensen nearly resulted in the Phoenix pegging a goal back only eight minutes before the interval, as Roly Bonevacia’s cross cannoned off the Great Dane’s chest and onto the head of the onrushing Blake Powell, before trickling wide of the post.
City picked up where it left off in the second half and Novillo had effectively put the result beyond doubt in the 49th minute with his second goal of the night.
After some neat interplay between debutant Caceres and Mooy, the Frenchman received the ball wide on the right hand side and lashed a blistering strike past Moss and into the top corner to make it 3-0.
City were running riot in the final third and Novillo was only denied a sensational hat-trick by the woodwork, while Moss prevented the rampant Fornaroli from netting his second goal of the night with a sensational fingertip save from the striker’s chipped effort.
Wellington were given a glimmer of hope in the 66th minute when Bonevacia pulled a goal back for the visitors, launching a stunning 25 yard effort past Sorensen and into the top corner.
But the damage was already done as van’t Schip’s men moved to within two points of Western Sydney Wanderers at the top of the table.
Hyundai A-League Round 16
Saturday, 16 January 2016
Melbourne City FC 3 (Bruno FORNAROLI 12’, Harry NOVILLO 31’, 49’)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Roly BONEVACIA 66’)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Peter Green
Melbourne City FC line-up: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 3. Aaron HUGHES, 5. Ivan FRANJIC (Paulo RETRE 63’), 6. Erik PAARTALU (Nick FITZGERALD 77’), 8. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO, 11. Michael ZULLO, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 25. Jacob MELLING, 29. Anthony CACERES (Osama MALIK 69’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO
Yellow cards: Zullo 65'
Red cards: nil
Wellington Phoenix line-up: 1. Glen MOSS (GK), 2. Emmanuel MUSCAT, 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ (Kwabena APPIAH-KUBI 71’), 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 12. Blake POWELL, 13. Albert RIERA, 17. Vince LIA (Louis FENTON 53’), 19. Thomas DOYLE, 22. Andrew DURANTE (C), 23. Matthew RIDENTON (Joel STEVENS 79’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 6. Dylan FOX, 15. James MCGARRY 28. Joel STEVENS
Yellow cards: Durante 15’, Lia 52’
Red cards: nil