Melbourne City FC secured a berth in the 2017 Suning Cup third-place play-off following a 13-0 demolition of the Yili Football Association of Xinjiang in Nanjing on Saturday afternoon.
City set the tone for a dominant afternoon right from the first whistle, with the emphatic performance headlined by five second-half goals from Giovanni Stellitano and four first-half strikes to John Roberts.
Billy Skliros chimed in with a double of his own, while Jordy Bos and Gianluca Iannucci rounded out the scoring to comfortably seal a place in the third-place play-off against German side F.C Koln.
Planning to utilize his full squad after a grueling schedule of fixtures, Head Coach Joe Palatsides rested several first-team regulars who started in the opening two matches against Red Star Belgrade and Inter Milan. His young side didn't miss a beat, however, as every player took their opportunity to impress with both hands.
Ben Pierias linked up with the electric Skliros to great effect down the right-flank, with his willingness to race up and down the touchline not dissimilar to his older brother Dylan, who plies his trade with City’s A-League team.
Roberts was his usual imposing self, netting his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh goal of the tournament before earning a well-deserved rest at the break. His replacement Stellitano didn’t hold back, netting a quintuple to set up an intriguing race for the Golden Boot.
Bos was a livewire on the left-flank, while Declan Croucher, Tarek Dehrib and Aison Ishak displayed focus throughout the match to ensure goalkeepers Liam Kennedy and Ahmad Taleb had little work to do between the posts.
The resounding result was an excellent response to Thursday’s defeat against Inter Milan, with City now claiming the honour of being the highest scoring team in the competition.
It’s finals time. City will square off against Bundesliga side F.C Koln’s academy team for third place. The tournament final will be played out between Inter Milan and Anderlecht; a clash between two very strong sides.
Nevertheless, a third-place finish for a City side who took down Red Star Belgrade in its opening clash and went toe-to-toe with Inter Milan after only a short time playing together would be a fantastic achievement.
2017 Suning Cup – Group B
Melbourne City FC 13
Yili Football Association of Xinjiang 0
Venue: Nanjing Football Training Base, Jiangsu