An Aaron Mooy masterclass led Melbourne City to a 5-1 win over a hapless Perth Glory side at AAMI Park on Friday.
City moved into fifth in the A-League thanks to goals from Erik Paartalu, Connor Chapman, Bruno Fornaroli, Harry Novillo and Mooy.
Mooy was the clear match-winner, however, with the Socceroos midfielder playing a role in all but one of the home side's scoring moves.
In front of a paltry crowd of 5,953 in Melbourne - the lowest attendance of the season - Glory's winless run stretched to five matches, while Perth had Aryn Williams sent off in the 82nd minute.
1-0 Paartalu (6') - Mooy's free-kick picked out the defensive midfielder at the back post and Paartalu's header deflected off Antony Golec's knee and into the net.
2-0 Chapman (19') - Mooy made Marc Warren and Diego Castro look silly on the right and then chipped a pass for Chapman. The defender nodded home his maiden A-League goal.
3-0 Fornaroli (35') - Another Mooy special from his own half released Corey Gameiro down the right and the young winger had the presence of mind to cut back for Fornaroli at the top of the box. The Uruguayan striker slotted his sixth goal of the season with aplomb.
3-1 Sidnei (45+1') - Nebojsa Marinkovic's corner-kick picked out the Brazilian's darting run to the near post and Sidnei's header flew into the net.
4-1 Novillo (53') - A corner came out to Novillo on the edge of the box and the former Lyon youth player showed supreme technique to rifle his shot past Ante Covic first time.
5-1 Mooy (82') - Mooy fed Stefan Mauk in the box and the latter was dragged back by Williams, earning the Glory defender a second yellow card. Mooy then converted the penalty.
WHAT THEY SAID
“We [City’s attack] didn’t play too much together during the season but step-by-step we’re going to improve and we’re going to show the A-League we have one of the best attacks in the competition,” – City winger Harry Novillo
“We were rubbish, plain and simple. Defensively we had more holes than Swiss cheese. We were passive, we weren’t aggressive, we ball watched and we’re second to everything. At this level it’s just not good enough,” – Glory ‘keeper Ante Covic.
Mooy's run to set up Chapman's goal underlined for City that the visitors were ripe for the picking. A dummy saw Warren fly through the air attempting to block a cross that never came, while Castro should have done better up against the byline. Mooy got free and Perth never recovered.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
City have not lost in six A-League matches against Glory, winning four.
After eight games, City are the competition's best attacking side with 18 goals.
Aaron Mooy. It is becoming more and more obvious that we should relish the Australia international in the A-League, as Mooy seems destined for a superior competition sooner rather than later. The 25-year-old was at least a couple of levels above every other player on the pitch on Friday, and regularly twisted away from multiple Glory opponents.
Gameiro was taken off and went straight down the players' race just after the hour mark with a sore left knee. The former Sydney FC attacker hurt himself while challenging Marinkovic for the ball, although initial signs indicated the injury may not be too serious.
THE FINAL WORD
After City's 3-0 home loss to Western Sydney Wanderers, coach John van 't Schip conceded 'no Mooy, no City'.
This win only served to reinforce that theory.
While the likes of Fornaroli and Novillo began to tear through Glory's defence as the match wore on, it was Mooy who was the inspiration when the contest was in the balance.
But it will not be against this Perth line-up - ravaged by injuries as it is - that Van 't Schip's men will prove their credentials, but during the Christmas and New Year period when they face Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar, Sydney and Western Sydney in consecutive matches.
The Glory will hope to end their winless run when they visit fellow strugglers Adelaide United next week.
Melbourne City: Sorensen (GK), Franjic (Millar 71'), Chapman, Melling, Clisby, Retre (Mauk 80'), Paartalu, Mooy, Gameiro (Williams 64'), Fornaroli, Novillo
Subs: Velaphi (GK), Williams, Mauk, Espindola, Millar
Perth Glory: Covic (GK), Warren, Golec, Williams, Ferreira, Thwaite, Marinkovic, Garcia, Castro (Reiners 72'), Sidnei (Oxborrow 88'), Harold (Knowles 57')
Subs: Tyson (GK), Gligor, Oxborrow, Reiners, Knowles
Red cards: Aryn Williams (Glory)
Yellow cards: City: Retre, Millar, Novillo
Glory: Thwaite, Warren, Williams x 2
Conditions: 15 degrees, clearAttendance: 5,953 @ AAMI Park