Melbourne City’s quest for A-League Grand Final revenge and a Premiers Plate/Championship double is alive after a remarkable 2-0 semi-final victory over Macarthur that has secured a home rematch of last year’s decider with Sydney FC.
While it has yet to be locked in due to Covid concerns over crowd capacity, as it stands City will host the Grand Final on Saturday night at AAMI Park in the hope of avenging last year’s 1-0 Grand final defeat to the Sky Blues in extra time.
Confirmation on that may not come until Tuesday, however, as league bosses await Victorian government approval to host the showpiece event with a crowd.
With that in mind, there is still a strong chance the decider will be played in Sydney despite a spike in Covid cases in the city’s Eastern Suburbs, in what would be another massive blow for Patrick Kisnorbo’s side.
In the absence of five of the Premiers Plate winners’ first eleven – including four Socceroos and 25 goal golden boot winner Jamie Maclaren – along with having their home semi-final moved to Sydney, City’s remarkable win was sealed by a couple of young guns.
In an A-League season that has been lit up by youth, it was fitting that 19-year-old Marco Tilio and 21-year-old Stefan Colakovski fired City into the Grand Final with a sensational dual blitz on the Macarthur goal just before the hour mark.
After withstanding Macarthur’s first half pressure, it was a pinpoint Tilio cross from the left-wing for an on-rushing Colakovski to tap home from close range, that broke open the semi-final deadlock.
A minute later, the small but passionate City supporter base at Jubliee Stadium were in raptures when Colakovski went from scorer to provider and teed up Tilio to finish off a City counter-attack superbly.
It was a minute of majestic interplay that would have left the likes of Jamie Maclaren beaming in hotel quarantine as he watched on in undoubted frustration that he can’t help his teammates in their quest for a first A-League title.
Along with their talent laden strike force, City have defender Nuno Reis to thank for their triumph after a remarkable last ditch sliding challenge in the first half that prevented a certain Charles M’Mombwa goal after he had rounded Tom Glover in the City goal.
The defeat ends a hugely positive debut season for Macarthur who had a small but boisterous crowd in attendance for a semi-final in their inaugural season. The loss also brings the curtain down on 80 time Socceroo and former national team captain Mark Milligan’s outstanding career.
Melbourne City will have to defeat reigning premiers Sydney FC if they’re to hoist the trophy this year. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
No Noone nor Nabbout
Craig Noone was a major subplot coming into the semi-final. It’s understood that the star City winger will sign for Macarthur next season, which made his place in this game tense enough. He was battling to overcome an injury, however, and after struggling through the warm-up, he was scratched from the substitutes bench. It was another massive blow for an already depleted Melbourne City side after nine-time Socceroo Andrew Nabbout failed to make the team sheet as well through injury, underlining just how impressive their semi-final victory was.
Sky Blue scouting mission
Grand Final qualification is hardly unfamiliar for Sydney FC as they get set for their third in a row. But there was an extra element of comfortability about preparing for this one as they could sit back in the cushy surrounds of their own stadium box to watch their opponents go at it. Steve Corica cut a relaxed figure as he analysed the threats his team will face in a quest for three straight titles.
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