Maclaren at the double as 10-man City hold off United fightback
A 10-man Melbourne City have held off a fast-finishing Western United FC to start 2020 om the right note after a thrilling 3-2 win at AAMI Park.
City appeared to be cruising as a Jamie Maclaren brace either side of Adrian Luna’s goal had them leading 3-0 and in complete control at the break.
But a double change from United boss Mark Rudan midway through the second half – bringing on youngsters Josh Cavallo and Dylan Pierias – changed the game.
The pair both won penalties in the space of a couple of minutes, the second of which saw City’s Harrison Delbridge shown a straight red card.
Both spot kicks were converted, first by Besart Berisha and then Alessandro Diamanti to reduce the deficit to one goal with 10 minutes to play.
Despite a few nervy moments, City held on for the victory to snap a two-game losing run and make an ideal start to the new year.
Maclaren’s double – his second brace against United this season – took his tally for the campaign to 12, taking him equal top of the scorers charts with Sydney FC’s Adam Le Fondre.
While City have consolidated second spot, now six points behind the league-leading Sky Blues, United have lost back-to-back games and could end the round as low as sixth.
Maclaren gives City dream start
An incisive run down the left by Lachie Wales ends with the winger cutting the ball back to Florin Berenguer, whose strike hit the post.
As United defender Seb Pasquali and keeper Filip Kurto looked to swoop on the loose ball, Maclaren was there to bundle the ball over the line.
Wales denied by brilliant Kurto save
City were in total control and should have doubled their lead on 19 minutes.
Another excellent team move ended with a lofted pass to Maclaren who flicked the ball on superbly to give Wales a gilt-edged chance, but United keeper Filip Kurto made himself big to deny the hosts a second goal.
Luna doubles City lead as United struggle
City’s dominance deserved a second goal and it duly arrived nine minutes before the break.
With United’s defence pinned back on the edge of their own box, the home side needed to be incisive to find a way through and that’s exactly what Craig Noone was.
The Englishman’s pin-point chipped pass over the defence picked out the run of Luna who volleyed past a stranded Kurto with a clinical first-time finish.
Maclaren capitalises on Kurto blunder
United conceded three goals in a match for the first time in their last outing but they shipped three before the break in this one in calamitous fashion.
Kurto came running out of his box to try and deal with a long ball forward but fluffed his lines and allowed the ball to land at Maclaren’s feet.
And the City hitman wasn’t going to let the chance slip, passing the ball into the open goal to make it 3-0 at half-time.
Berisha pulls one back from the spot
Mark Rudan brought on youngsters Josh Cavallo and Dylan Pierias to try and spark some life into his side and the changes worked 15 minutes from time.
Cavallo chased a long ball over the top from Alessandro Diamanti and got to the ball before keeper Dean Bouzanis, who clattered into the youngster for a penalty.
And Besart Berisha sent the keeper the wrong way give United a lifeline.
Delbridge sees red as United get second penalty
United suddenly had a spring in their step and within a couple of minutes had won another penalty as Harrison Delbridge’s sliding challenge stopped Pierias’ cross with his arm.
Not only were United awarded a spot-kick but Delbridge was given a straight red – after VAR intervention – to compound matters for the hosts.
Alessandro Diamanti took responsibility this time and made it 3-2 to set up a grandstand finish.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City
Saturday, 11 January 2020
Kick off: 4.00pm local, 5.00pm AEDT