MELBOURNE City have the chance for grand final revenge, after sweeping aside Macarthur FC in Sunday’s semifinal to earn a rematch with Sydney FC in next weekend’s season showpiece.
Two stunning strikes in two second half minutes to Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio gave City reward for their dominance over the 90 minutes, and ensure a repeat of last year’s grand final.
On the front foot throughout, City made light of the absence of Golden Boot Jamie Maclaren and several other senior players to break Macarthur’s resistance at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.
The visitors will look back on a stunning goalline clearance by Nuno Reis in the first half to deny Charles M’Mombwa at a point when City were dominant but were caught on the break.
Had that chance gone in, instead of Reis sliding across the goal line to clear M’Mombwa’s flick after rounding Tom Glover, Macarthur could have presented City with an insurmountable challenge.
But the patience of the players in Sky Blue held steady as the game progressed, until they breached the visiting rearguard ruthlessly twice in a minute.
The first came on 54 minutes, as City pressed and probed the Macarthur defensive structure. The quick feet of Adrian Luna kept the attack alive outside the box before the ball was moved to Florin Berenguer and then down the left wing to Marco Tilio. The 19-year-old’s low cross was instant and met by a 20-year-old’s feet, Colakovski converting from close range.
Macarthur looked aghast, but within seconds they were two behind, literally from kick off. A careless pass was intercepted by Nathanial Atkinson, who launched a precision long ball into the path of Colakovski, who had peeled off the defenders. Gathering the pass, Colakovski squared it across the box to Tilio who finished in style.
Suddenly City had breathing space, and the tempo dropped despite Macarthur’s attempts to get back into the game. On the break City almost had a third, Beringer’s short saved from close range by Adam Federici, and though Macarthur fought valiantly, Glover in the City goal was scarcely troubled.
It means City head to the grand final to face the Sky Blues again, with Patrick Kisnorbo in his first season as head coach aiming to land a first league title for the Premiers.
It remains to be seen what resources will be available to Kisnorbo, with Andrew Nabbout missing the semifinal through injury, winger Craig Noone injured in the warm-up and captain Scott Jamieson forced off with a head injury.
But the confidence evident in this win suggests Sydney will face an almighty challenge next weekend in their own attempts to win the title for an unprecedented third consecutive year.
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