Late Tilio goal wins five-goal thriller for City against Phoenix
Melbourne City substitute Marco Tilio headed home the all-important fifth goal in a 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix at WIN Stadium on Sunday night.
Wellington twice equalised after going 1-0 and 2-0 down to respective goals scored by Curtis Good and Jamie Maclaren in the first half. Tomer Hemed levelled it up at 1-1 in between the two City strikes and Ulises Dávila did the same in the second 45, before Tilio emerged off the bench on 80 minutes to put his head on the decisive goal three minutes later.
Wellington were unfortunate not to receive any reward for effort on the night against City, who moved into second on the A-League table after clinching the three points.
Ufuk Talay's Phoenix fought valiantly throughout the entertaining contest, with Oliver Sail and defender Tim Payne pulling off a string of saves and blocks in and around the box to keep City from scoring freely in Wollongong.
It's a welcoming result for Patrick Kisnorbo and City, who lost to Western United last time out to give Central Coast Mariners a brief period of respite at the top of the pile. But victory over Wellington moves City to within two points of the league-leaders, with a game in hand.
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Wellington spent the first three minutes of play camped outside of City's defensive box before the visitors quickly flipped the script, proceeding to dominate play and chances throughout the opening half-hour.
Andrew Nabbout sent two shots from distance past the post and over the crossbar, and Rostyn Griffiths did the same with a strike off his left peg which drifted high and missed the mark.
Maclaren saw a chance from close range thwarted by committed defensive bodies closing down the space, before Phoenix 'keeper Sail watched on in fear as a shot from Nabbout took a heavy deflection off Alex Rufer and just faded past the far post.
But from the resulting corner, City took the lead. Florin Berenguer touched the ball off its spot for Craig Noone to swing into the box and Good rose the highest to connect with a header over Payne and send the ball past Sail into the back of the net.
The Phoenix improved after going behind as Hemed showed a threat of what was to come, displaying control off his chest to open the chance to dispatch a shot on goal - Wellington's best chance in the opening 22 minutes.
Noone then handed Nabbout the opportunity to make it 2-0 soon after with a delivery to the back post, finding his fellow City winger unmarked and primed to finish - but Nabbout volleyed high over the bar.
Next it was Berenguer's turn to register a shot on goal, with Nabbout providing the pass which led to the chance. Berenguer opened up his body to send a first-time strike toward goal from inside the box, but Sail got down quickly to get a strong glove on the ball and quell the danger.
Surviving City's offensive efforts opened the door for Wellington to equalise, and that's exactly what they managed when Hemed finished a move crafted through a one-two with Dávila and David Ball down the left flank, with the latter finding Hemed to finish.
The Phoenix scored on 39 minutes and would have hoped to round out the half on level terms, but Maclaren ensured that wouldn't happen with a 45th-minute goal to put City back in front.
Connor Metcalfe set Maclaren free down the left flank after playing his way through the Phoenix midfielders. Maclaren sized up Payne, feinted to cut inside then darted toward the byline to dispatch a left-footed shot across Sail into the opposite side of the net.
City's intentions to wrap up all three points hit a number of roadblocks in the second half, as Wellington defended bravely whilst pushing to equalise for the second time.
Payne was the closest Phoenix observer for both of City's first-half goals, but he wasn't prepared to let Metcalfe's shot from inside the box test Sail in Wellington's goal, getting a desperate, lunging block in the way of the strike in the 48th minute to deny City the goalscoring chance.
The visitors pressed on, and it seemed a third City goal was imminent when Metcalfe sent Noone and Maclaren in on goal without a Wellington defender in sight. Louis Fenton tracked back desperately to get in between the two City forwards, and Noone opted to shoot instead of find Maclaren at the back post. However, Sail was up to the challenge of keeping the ball off target with an outstretched glove.
Much like they did in the first half, Wellington managed to weather the City storm to find another equalising goal. This time it was Dávila finishing off the Phoenix move, collecting the ball on the right corner of the 18-yard box, breezing past Griffiths on a dribbling run across goal before burying his left-footed shot calmly into the bottom left corner of goal.
City went in search for answers off the bench, calling Marco Tilio, Stefan Colakovski and Adrián Luna into the contest to continue a search for a winner which went into the final ten minutes of regular time.
But on 83 minutes, Tilio put his side 3-2 ahead. The City substitute netted after Luna found Metcalfe on the right-hand byline, crossing to find Tilio's head to finish as City took the advantage for the third time at WIN Stadium. It proved to be the final change in scoreline for the game, as City clung on to all three points.
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, April 10 2021
Kick-off: 5.05 AEST
Wellington Phoenix v Western United
Sunday, April 11 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
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