Melbourne City have set up a mouth-watering Hyundai A-League semi-final with cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory after a 2-0 win over the Phoenix in Wellington.
Veteran striker Josh Kennedy opened the scoring after an hour, before a cruel deflection off the post and then goalkeeper Glen Moss from a Harry Novillo drive gave City breathing space and eventually the win.
“It’ll be the highlight of both teams’ seasons so far,” said Kennedy of Friday’s semi.
“It’s unfortunate it’s not the Grand Final – Victory v City – but I think the boys will be looking forward to it.
“Last time we played them it was three-zip at Etihad so hopefully that’s still stuck in their minds to get revenge.”
Kennedy had a couple of chances to score off crosses from makeshift left-back Jonatan Germano, before eventually finding the net when he deflected home an Aaron Mooy shot from six yards.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Kennedy.
“Before that I had a few good chances, so it was sort of building and obviously I was happy and excited to poke one in.
“I thought I was getting closer and closer and those two crosses from Jonny were brilliant. I was just where I was meant to be.”
Despite patchy form leading into the Finals Series, including a 4-1 hiding at the hands of Adelaide United last weekend, Kennedy says the side never lost confidence.
“It was completely different circumstances to the Adelaide game and when we came down to it, I think we were confident that we could get a result.
“The boys dug deep to come away and get the result like we did today, especially after the last couple of weeks that were pretty rubbish.
“Overall I think it was our best game (of the season)."
City need to quickly regroup with just five days to prepare for Friday’s blockbuster against Victory at Etihad Stadium.
“It could be a good thing that we don’t have too long to think about it,” said Kennedy.
“We’ll no doubt have a small run on Tuesday, then Wednesday, Thursday, that’s it.
“I don’t think we’re too fussed about the short week or the short turnaround.”