Marquee man Robert Koren has marked his first starting appearance with a hat-trick as Melbourne City produced their most emphatic performance of the season with a 5-2 demolition of Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Tuesday.
In a blistering start City were 3-0 up inside 25 minutes as Aaron Mooy, Koren and Damien Duff all capitalised on some shoddy Jets defending to basically ensure the result before half-time.
Koren then completed his treble after the break – either side of Edson Montano’s header for the home side – before a late consolation for Jeronimo Neumann.
The huge win was not only the perfect birthday present for coach John van’t Schip – who turned 51 on Tuesday – but will also have the leading clubs looking over their shoulders at an improving City who are starting to get things right.
WHAT THEY SAID
“Our team started really well today. We scored an early three goals and then the game was easier to control. We showed that we are a good team and we can win games. We want to be on the top of the league, everything looks really good at the moment and hopefully we can keep it going.” – City midfielder Robert Koren
0-1 Mooy (4’) – City were awarded a penalty after Damien Duff was brought down by Allan Welsh in the box. The in-form Mooy stepped up, sending Jets ‘keeper Ben Kennedy the wrong way and slotting it down the right for his second goal in as many games.
0-2 Koren (9’) – Mooy produced a nice turn and release to send James Brown clear down the left wing. Brown’s attempted cross was cut-out by Adrian Madaschi but only fell perfectly into the path of Koren, who got to the ball before Kennedy and finished clinically at the near post.
0-3 Duff (24’) – From a Mooy corner, Patrick Kisnorbo had a free header which was blocked on the line. The ball came back out to the defender who then layed it off to Duff, who hit a powerful low shot which Kennedy got a hand too but it still managed to trickle into the corner of the net.
0-4 Koren (63’) – A classic City counter-attack was started and finished by their marquee-man. He won possession in his own half before racing down field and finding David Williams, who held the ball up perfectly for the overlapping run of Duff into the box. The Irishman played a pin-point square ball across the face of goal where Koren was waiting for the simple tap-in.
1-4 Montano (71’) – David Carney did brilliantly to wriggle free on the left and get a cross in, with Jeronimo Neumann flicking it on where Montano out-jumped ‘keeper Tando Velaphi to head it into an empty net.
1-5 Koren (74’) – Mate Dugandzic got in behind the Jets defence down the left after a clever pass from Ben Garuccio. Dugandzic got to the by-line before cutting it back for the on-rushing Koren whose low drive went in off the post.
2-5 Neumann (79’) – Andrew Hoole was the Jets’ best player and it was his centre that Kisnorbo made a hash of clearing, the loose ball falling to Jeronimo, who smashed it home from just six yards out.
Already down 2-0, had a chance to get back into the game when Andrew Hoole attacked down the left, only to be brought down right on the edge of the box by Jacob Melling. The City midfielder was perhaps a touch lucky to have escaped with just a yellow card despite it looking like he might have prevented a goal-scoring opportunity. Tando Velaphi then pulled off a spectacular save down low to his left to deny Joel Griffiths from the ensuing free-kick and the Jets’ best chance to get back into the contest was gone.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
City were clinical from the outset against Newcastle, scoring with their only three shots on target in the first half, despite having just 43 percent of possession. It was the first time in the club’s (Heart or City) history they had scored three times in the first half of a match and just their second win – and first ever at Hunter Stadium - in their last six meetings with the Jets.
There wasn’t much for the Jets to get excited about but David Carney almost provided one of the goals of the season nine minutes before half-time. The home side got a free-kick just two over the half-way line – all over 48 yards from the goal. But noticing City ‘keeper Tando Velaphi off his line Carney let rip, the ball sailing just inches over the crossbar with Velaphi scrambling back. It was as good as it got for Newcastle on what was a shocking way to end 2014.
It took just three minutes for Newcastle’s forgettable afternoon to get going with a poor piece of defending from Allan Welsh. First he was easily beaten down the Jets’ left-wing by a clever pirouette and dribble by Duff but the defender then compounded the problem by chasing back and bringing down the City attacker inside the box for a clear penalty. It’s the last things embattled boss Phil Stubbins would have wanted and was the start of the Jets’ downfall.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Despite having skipper Kew Jaliens available again after suspension, Stubbins stuck with the same back three that lost to Melbourne Victory. It proved the wrong decision with the Jets defence totally out-classed by City’s rampant attack with Welsh – more comfortable in midfield – found out terribly for the opener. The home side could have done with a player of Jaliens quality and experience from the outset. By the time the Dutchman came on at half-time, the game was gone.
THE FINAL WORD
The New Year can’t come soon enough for the Jets, who will be desperate to atone for this horror show when they travel to Wollongong to face Sydney FC on Saturday night. City will be confident of extending their four-game unbeaten run when they make the short trip down the F3 from Newcastle to play Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.