Melbourne City have claimed their first Hyundai A-League win of the season after accounting for Central Coast 3-1 in an attacking affair at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Two goals in two minutes during a frenetic opening set the tone for the match, with City striker Bruno Fornaroli scoring a second-half double to settle the contest.
There were goalkeeping changes for both sides with Olyroo Paul Izzo replacing Liam Reddy, who’d been stood down by the Mariners during the week.
Meanwhile Alex Pavlidis – City’s social media officer – was promoted to the bench in place of the injured Tando Velaphi for the home side.
There was also a first A-League start for 19-year-old Stefan Zinni up front, while captain Patrick Kisnorbo returned for a City side playing their third game in nine days.
1-0 Patrick Kisnorbo (11’) – A needless foul from Strom Roux on Stefan Zinni presented City with a chance in a dangerous area. Mooy curled in the free-kick to the top of the box, with the City skipper hammering home a header from the six-yard box after losing his marker.
1-1 Nick Fitzgerald (13’) – Montgomery showed great composure on the ball in the attacking third before laying off a pass for Fitzgerald. The 23-year-old unleashed a venomous shot from distance that Sorensen could only get his fingertips to before it crashed into the back of the net.
2-1 Bruno Fornaroli (53’) – Aaron Mooy put substitute David Williams into space down the wing with an incisive pass. Williams went for a darting run before squaring an early ball across the face of goal. Fornaroli latched onto the end of it, with his sliding touch sending Izzo the wrong way.
3-1 Bruno Fornaroli (71’) – Some clever passing from City in the attacking third eventually unlocked Fornaroli in the box. As is becoming the Uruguayan’s trademark, he took a touch with his back to goal and cracked a shot on goal that Izzo got two hands to but couldn’t keep out from close range.
The Mariners again reacted to going behind in the second-half – and almost replied immediately for the second time in the match. The ball was played to Mitch Austin up front, with the Englishman chesting the ball down and unleashing a shot first time. The cracking strike cannoned into the woodwork and unfortunately away for Tony Walmsley's side.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Melbourne City are now unbeaten in their last ten matches at AAMI Park, winning seven. The best run in the club’s history.
The result was just the second time the Mariners have lost to City and means they are still searching for their first away win since the final round of the 2013/14 season.
City marquee Aaron Mooy put on another clinic at AAMI Park, with his dead-ball delivery a feature. With the crowd buzzing following two goals in two minutes, the Socceroos midfielder stepped up to take a free-kick at an acute angle. Mooy whipped in a cracking shot that nearly caught Izzo out. The Mariners keeper was forced into a diving save, with replays inconclusive as the whether the ball had actually crossed the line.
THE FINAL WORD
City are finally up and running this season thanks to a badly needed three points, with AAMI Park becoming a bit of a fortress for John van ‘t Schip’s side. There were also encouraging signs for David Williams and Corey Gameiro off the bench.
A tumultuous week ends in disappointment for the Mariners with some worrying signs at the ease in which their young backline are conceding. The Gosford outfit will need to find a way to win on the road this season if they’re to be in the finals reckoning.
Melbourne City: Sorensen (GK), Retre, Chapman, Kisnorbo (c), Garuccio, Melling, Mooy, Mauk (Trifiro 80’), Kuzmanovski, (Gameiro 54’), Zinni (Williams 50’), Fornaroli
Central Coast Mariners: Izzo (GK), Roux, Ashcroft (Heffernan 82’), Austin (Trifiro 74’), Ferreira, Montgomery (c) (Rose 61’), O’Donovan, Caceres, Fitzgerald, Neill, McGing
Scorers: Kisnorbo (11’), Fitzgerald (13’), Fornaroli (53’, 71’)
Red cards: nil
Yellow cards: Ferreira 4’, Garuccio 26’, Montgomery 53’, Melling 89’
Conditions: 31°C, humid
Attendance: 8,408 @AAMI Park