Maclaren picks up Golden Boot as City overcome Western United
Jamie Maclaren scored twice to clinch the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season Golden Boot as Melbourne City headed into the Finals Series with a 3-1 over Western United FC on Wednesday night.
Equal on 20 goals with Sydney FC’s Adam Le Fondre heading into the clash at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Maclaren netted twice in the second half to finish the regular season as the competition’s top scorer.
The Socceroos striker’s first goal from the penalty spot doubled City’s lead after youngster Moudi Najjar scored his first Hyundai A-League goal inside 12 minutes.
Besart Berisha pulled one back for United 20 minutes from time – also via a penalty – before Maclaren made the result safe four minutes from time.
The win continues City’s unbeaten run since the competition’s resumption and sends Erick Mombaerts’ troops into a Semi Final in seven days full of confidence.
The defeat snaps United’s three-game winning streak and means the Green and Black finish in fifth position and will take on Brisbane Roar (fourth) in an Elimination Final on Sunday.
The other Elimination Final sees third-place Wellington Phoenix do battle with Perth Glory, who ended the regular season in sixth spot, on Saturday afternoon.
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Najjar fires City in front
Only into the starting side due to the suspension of Craig Noone, Najjar made the most of his opportunity on 12 minutes.
A sloppy turnover by United in their own half allowed Connor Metcalfe to pinch possession before feeding Najjar on the left.
And the youngster took the chance, slamming a powerful low shot through the legs of defender Oskar Dillon which arrowed into the far corner.
Kurto goes acrobatic
Melbourne City continued to attack and defender Nathaniel Atkinson was next to threaten United’s goal midway through the half.
Atkinson picked up possession on the left and brought the ball back onto his right before trying his luck more than 25 yards from goal.
His curling effort appeared to be going just wide but United gloveman Filip Kurto was taking no chances, stretching to palm it out for a corner.
Macca strikes from the spot
Having fluffed a great chance a few minutes earlier, Maclaren got an even better opportunity 10 minutes after the break from the penalty spot.
Referee Tim Danaskos pointed to the spot after Harrison Delbridge’s header struck the arm of United defender Tomi Uskok.
Maclaren wasn’t going to waste this one, smashing his spot-kick with plenty of venom right down the middle for his 21st goal of the campaign.
Goal-king Berisha scores another
Berisha and Alessandro Diamanti had only been on the pitch for a little over five minutes when they combined to drag United back into the match.
It was Diamanti’s excellent pass which got Berisha into the box before the veteran striker was bundled over by City defender Richard Windbichler.
Berisha made no mistake from the spot, sending Tom Glover the wrong way to set up a grandstand last 20 minutes.
Maclaren ices the result for City
Just as United were increasing the pressure as they looked for an equaliser, Maclaren made the result safe with four minutes to go.
Substitutes Ramy Najjarine and Lachie Wales helped manufacture the goal, with the latter’s inch-perfect cross on a plate for Maclaren to tap into an open goal.