Perth comeback falls short after 10-minute blitz from City
Melbourne City weathered an almighty second half storm to beat Perth Glory 3-2 in a gripping Hyundai A-League contest on Sunday night and consolidate second position on the ladder.
Erick Mombaerts' team winded the reigning Premiers with stunning 10-minute first half assault which saw Rostyn Griffiths, Florin Berenguer and Markel Susaeta establish a three-goal buffer in just 34 minutes.
Perth launched an all-out assault in the second half after Joel Chianese sparked the reigning Premiers into life on 53 minutes, and when Bruno Fornaroli tucked Chianese's cutback away five minutes after the hour mark Tony Popovic's men looked like they would go on and claim an equaliser.
Diego Castro hit the post and Perth came close on several occasions as City - who had lost nine of their previous 11 fixtures at HBF Park - held on for dear life.
The result moves the Bundoora club into outright second on the ladder, 10 points behind leaders Sydney FC, and three ahead of Perth.
Glory finish the round in fourth position after Wellington's 3-1 win over Central Coast Mariners earlier on Sunday afternoon.
There were warning signs for the Perth defence in the early stages as Jamie Maclaren shot just wide of Liam Reddy's post after racing onto a clever lob from Josh Brillante, while at the other end, Craig Noone cleared Alex Grant's header off the line when it appeared certain the Glory defender would score.
As the game began to live up to its weighty pre-match expectations, City delivered the first blow from a set piece on 23 minutes. Susaeta's corner evaded everyone on its way to Griffiths at the back post, and after initially misjudging the flight of the ball he recovered, swivelled and fired the visitors into the lead.
City 'keeper Tom Glover parried from Bruno Fornaroli after a lapse at the back from Mombaerts' men but just as Perth upped their ante, the reigning Premiers fell two behind courtesy of Berenguer's beauty.
It came after Scott Jamieson's surge down the left flank - the City skipper found the French international free on the edge of the box and after one touch to set himself, Berenguer curled an unstoppable strike past Reddy for two-nil.
Perth were rocking and incredibly, were sliced upon five minutes later.
Brilliant interplay from Noone allowed Jamieson to deliver a sweeping cross through the area - again the Glory defence were static - and Susaeta was completely unmarked to tap in his first Hyundai A-League goal.
As one might have expected, Perth thundered out of the blocks in the second stanza and Joel Chianese gave the hosts renewed hope on 53 minutes.
Fornaroli's header from Ivan Franjic's ball was spectacularly palmed away by Glover, but Chianese was there to tap in the rebound and spark new life into HBF Park.
Glory were back and it was soon all hands on deck for the visitors.
Gregory Wuthrich stung the palms of Glover with a smashing drive from distance, and Fornaroli, who had earlier spurned a chance to draw another back from right in front, was on hand to make it 3-2 by tucking Chianese's cutback home.
Castro hit the post after a sweeping move which ended with the Spaniard curling Franjic's cutback onto the woodwork, and Popovic sent on Nick D'Agostino in an attempt to add another dimension to the Glory attack.
The onslaught continued - Glover pulled off an incredible acrobatic save at full stretch to tip Fornaroli's volley onto the post, and D'Agostino hit the side netting - as City just about held on to a win that moves them outright second on the ladder.
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
Saturday, 14 March
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick off: 5pm AEDT
Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, 14 March
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT