Melbourne City FC’s finals hopes were further dashed on Wednesday evening as John van’t Schip’s side fell to a dramatic and controversial 3-2 defeat at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium.
In the rescheduled Round 10 Hyundai A-League match, which was delayed an hour due to a passing storm through Parramatta, Singaporean international Safuwan Baharudin handed Melbourne City FC the lead with a header at the back post in the 28th minute.
But the Wanderers struck back 10 minutes later through Mateo Poljak, who buried Western Sydney’s only clear-cut chance of the first stanza.
On the day he was called up to represent the Socceroos in upcoming friendly matches, Aaron Mooy scored what many thought would be the decisive goal, with a curling long-range free kick that evaded both his teammates and opponents and nestled in the back of the net.
But in a dramatic finale, the Wanderers equalised from the penalty spot through Tomi Juric, before Melbourne City FC were reduced to 10-men as Connor Chapman saw red and Nikita Rukavytsya conjured an injury-time winner for the hosts.
Melbourne City FC started the brighter of the two teams, with Frenchman Harry Novillo looking dangerous down the left wing, while Mate Dugandzic also looked promising on the right after returning from injury.
City’s first chance came from a set-piece from former Wanderer Mooy, with his low dipping ball into the box palmed awkwardly onto the crossbar by Western Sydney stopper Dean Bouzanis.
The opener came from another set-piece as Melbourne City FC recycled the ball out to Mooy following a corner and his cross to Kisnorbo was first cleared off the line by Yojiro Takahagi, but the rebound found Safuwan who steered the ball home.
Three minutes later, Melbourne City should have been 2-0 up after Dugandzic’s cut back from the edge of the penalty area was steered wide by the boot of international marquee Robi Koren.
Novillo flashed a deflected free-kick past Bouzanis’ upright in the 33rd minute, but Western Sydney hit back through Poljak, with the home side’s first real opportunity of the half, who coolly slotted past Tando Velaphi in the Melbourne City FC goal in a crowded penalty area.
Koren then struck the woodwork from an acute angle, with both sides entering the break equal, but with City enjoying the majority of chances.
Restricted to shots from distance, Melbourne City tried its luck through Mooy then Novillo early in the second period, before momentum started to shift in favour of the hosts.
First a powerful free-kick from Juric was tipped over the bar by Velaphi, before the Melbourne City ‘keeper produced one of the saves of the season, flying to his left to stop a certain Juric goal from a close-range shot.
That gave Melbourne City the impetus to push forward and the visitors took the lead through Mooy’s 40-metre free-kick that eluded everyone in the box and found its way past Bouzanis into the net in the 72nd minute.
But the lead would be short-lived as Chapman brought down Juric in the box and referee Strebe Delovski pointed to the spot in the 78th minute. Juric buried the penalty to draw the sides level.
Three minutes later, Chapman was sent off for remonstrating with Delovski, allowing Western Sydney to expose van’t Schip’s side in injury time as Rukavytsya steered home Tanaka’s cross to send City home empty handed.
Hyundai A-League Round 10 (Rescheduled)
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Mateo Poljak 38’, Tomi Juric 79’, Nikita Rukavytsya 90+1’)
Melbourne City FC 2 (Safuwan Baharduin 28’, Aaron Mooy 72’)
Venue: Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Western Sydney Wanderers: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 3. Yusuke TANAKA, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Antony GLOEC, Yojiro TAGAHAKI, 7. Labinot HALITI, 8. Mateo POLJAK (23. Jason TRIFIRO 46’, 25. Sam GALLOWAY 90+6’), 9. Tomi JURIC, 12. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 33. Nick KALMAR (16. Jaushua SOTIRIO 74’), 37. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS
Substitutes not used: 1. Ante COVIC (GK), 33. Steve KUZMANOVSKI
Yellow cards: Aspropotamidis 14’, Topor-Stanley 32’, Golec 87’, Rukavytsya 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil
Melbourne City FC: 20. Tando VELPAHI (GK), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 5. Erik PAARTALU, 6. Aaron MOOY, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Harry NOVILLO (14. James BROWN 66’), 10. Robert KOREN (22. Jack CLISBY 85’), 23. Mate DUGANDZIC (15. David WILLIAMS 59’), 24. Patrick KISNORBO (c), 27. Kew JALIENS, 29. Safuwan BAHARUDIN
Substitutes not used: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 13. Jonatan GERMANO
Yellow cards: Nil
Red Cards: Chapman 82’