Socceroo Jamie Maclaren’s five-goal haul for Melbourne City in a 7-0 rout of Melbourne Victory wasn’t all that much of a surprise for the striker.
An overcast Melbourne welcomed the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The famed City Terrace convened behind the goals for the first time in over a year.
It was a display of one of the two premier sides in the competition. City raced home to a thorough and resounding 4-1 victory under the AAMI Park lights with Craig Noone impressing.
Despite City dominating the first half in possession, WSW’s effectiveness in operating on the counter led to the opener from the head of Bernie Ibini.
Yet City’s first goal of the evening came from a quickly taken set piece from Craig Noone. A second half flurry saw Andrew Nabbout grab his first for the season, Noone grab his brace and Jamie Maclaren chip in as tensions began to rise between the two finals aspirants.
Ultimately, it is City who stake their claim as the in-form team this season while questions surrounding WSW’s inconsistency on the park will likely emerge in the coming days and weeks.
Craig Noone – 9.5
It was his best City performance of the season. Noone demonstrated his lethal threat across goal as he has well and truly adapted to Patrick Kisnorbo’s system.
Despite being a constant threat throughout the first half, his long-range shots were unable to trouble the Wanderers. However, the controversial yet intelligent free kick was put in the back of the net in the 32nd minute. It was a beautiful yet quirky moment for the English veteran.
His form continued in the second half with his trademark cut back followed by a cross, which met the chest of Andrew Nabbout. The 54th minute brought him his brace as he found yards of space, smashing it past Daniel Margush. His second assist came from a beautifully weighted cross in the 58th minute. The cross met Adrian Luna but Noone was inches offside in the build-up.
Andrew Nabbout – 8.5
Interchanging with Craig Noone, the rejuvenated winger began his evening by crossing the ball into the 18-yard box as City dominated the possession for the opening 15 minutes.
His laser-focused shot in the 11th minute was saved by Margush. Re-attempting a similar shot in the 43rd minute, Nabbout demonstrated his resilience in front of goal.
His bench pressing paid off in the 52nd minute as he latched onto a ball from Nathaniel Atkinson to make it City’s second. His awe-inspiring vision in the 54th minute led to Craig Noone’s second as the second-half blitz from City rendered them victors.
Connor Metcalfe – 7.5
Improving in every fixture he partakes in, the midfielder was of immense importance in the midst of City’s moves in transition as he played several key passes to the likes of Nabbout and Noone on the wings. It is onward and upward for the Olympics hopeful.
Curtis Good – 7.5
The Socceroos aspirant had a strong header go high above the goal in the fifth minute. Keeping Ibini and Mitch Duke at bay for most of the first half, his defensive performances this season encapsulate City’s brilliant form going into this fixture. He was a heavy contributor to the second-half clean sheet kept by City
Honourable mentions: Adrian Luna and Rostyn Griffiths.
Mitch Duke – 7
Against the run of play, Duke employed his play-making abilities to cross the ball from the byline to the head of Ibini to open the scoring for the Wanderers. Despite contributing an assist, he was largely absent in the second half as WSW’s tempo began to drop significantly.
Bernie Ibini – 7
Despite being controlled for the majority of the first half, against the run of play, Ibini launched to beat Tom Glover at his near post in the 21st minute.
He was then afforded a similar cross in the 28th minute when a lack of power failed to trouble Glover. Ultimately, the physicality of City’s defenders shut down Ibini and his striking partner Duke for the majority of the second half.
Daniel Wilmering – 6.5
The defensive shining light among a dominated and defeated WSW, he was able to partially withstand the pressure from City’s wingers and displayed his tenacity. However, the wing back ultimately succumbed to the pressure from the attacking press of City.
Honourable mention: Graham Dorrans.