When Melbourne City became Melbourne City, the fortunes of the southern capital’s second team appeared destined to change.
New W-League club Melbourne City had one last hurdle to clear to confirm their championship favouritism, and they did that emphatically with a 4-2 win over reigning champions Canberra United on Sunday.
Featuring nine internationals, Melbourne’s all-star line-up raced out of the blocks and held a 2-0 advantage inside 10 minutes thanks to goals from Marianna Tabain and Larissa Crummer.
Ashleigh Sykes pulled a goal back for Canberra, but Aivi Luik restored the two-goal margin to conclude a chaotic first half.
Not even being reduced to 10 players for the final half-hour could halt City, who had captain Lisa De Vanna receive a seemingly-soft red card for a shove on Canberra’s skipper Nicole Begg.
Michelle Heyman drew Canberra within a goal but City always seemed relatively comfortable despite their numerical disadvantage.
They wrapped up the contest with a strike from Scotland international Kim Little.
De Vanna and teammate Steph Catley both hit the frame of the goal amid numerous missed chances, leaving City coach Joe Montemurro saying his side were far from flawless.
“In the end we should have buried more chances,” Montemurro said.
“It is good to bring in world class players, but you have to bring in world class characters as well, and it has been fantastic from that point of view.”
The win put City five points clear on the ladder as Adelaide United moved into second with a club record 4-0 win against Melbourne Victory.
Adelaide, who have never made the W-League finals, followed up an unexpected win over two-time champions Brisbane Roar with a perfect showing in Melbourne.
Rosie Sutton scored a hat-trick, with Adelaide United already boasting a 3-0 lead when former Australia goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri was sent off midway through the second half.
Meanwhile, a lone early penalty from Kyah Simon was enough to give struggling giants Sydney FC an entertaining 1-0 win over Perth Glory, for whom goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold was in fine form.
On Saturday, last season’s bottom club Western Sydney Wanderers got off the mark as an injury-time Carmelina Moscato winner secured a 2-1 victory at Newcastle Jets.