Bruno Fornaroli broke the record for most goals in a Hyundai A-League regular season as his hattrick inspired Melbourne City to a 3-0 win over Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
The City star scored once before half-time and twice in the final 20 minutes to surpass the previous top tally of 19 and cement the hosts’ top four spot.
Despite a lacklustre performance for much of the first-half, City overran Sydney in the second 45 as Graham Arnold’s side go seven domestic matches without a win.
1-0 Bruno Fornaroli (41’) – Only Fornaroli could have made what he did of Harry Novillo’s hopeful hack out of defence. The Uruguayan outmanoeuvred Aaron Calver to win possession, twisted away from he and Ali Abbas before peeling to the back post to bury Aaron Mooy’s intelligent return pass.
2-0 Bruno Fornaroli (71’) – Just as he did for the first, Fornaroli made a breakaway possible by fighting for the ball on halfway. Harry Novillo rewarded his strike partner’s run in behind with a fine through pass, but it was Fornaroli who again made the move memorable with the composure to take a touch and finish clinically.
3-0 Bruno Fornaroli (82’) – Having beaten Aaron Calver on the left-wing, substitute Michael Zullo swung a killer low cross in behind the Sydney defence. Matt Jurman’s tired, mistimed swipe afforded Fornaroli a one-on-one and he made no mistake for his record-breaking 20th goal of the season.
The butterfly effect of Patrick Kisnorbo’s cynical decision to haul down Filip Holosko in the 39th minute came into sharp significance just moments later.
Sydney were enjoying the ascendency when Holosko’s progress towards goal was crudely cut short by a rugby tackle from behind, with the City skipper only reprieved of a red card by virtue of Alex Wilkinson’s nearby presence.
The visitors argued intensely for greater sanction but only received punishment themselves when, from the ensuing free-kick, Fornaroli and Mooy combined to capitalise on a lapse in concentration.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Though their first 40 minutes promised enough – and contained at least two good chances – the simple, recurring theme for Sydney FC is an inability to convert their opportunities.
Serving only to highlight that plot point was the away side’s ability to finish the match with over 60 per cent of possession, but all they had to show for it was three shots on target and two goals conceded on the counter-attack.
The competition’s best combination turned it on yet again for Melbourne City’s opening goal.
Fornaroli’s tenacious play in the lead-up made it all possible, but the forward’s connection with Mooy in receiving the assist highlighted just why he has been such a revelation this season.
THE FINAL WORD
Melbourne City, especially with Fornaroli in rare form, remain in contention for the Premier’s Plate.
John van’t Schip’s side are now unbeaten in eight home fixtures and sit four points adrift of new leaders Adelaide United with five matches to play.
Sydney, however, must be starting to focus the majority of their energy on AFC Champions League engagements as an ongoing winless streak sees them sit precariously in sixth place.