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Melbourne City dominate the Phoenix to inch a step closer to the premiers plate

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10th April, 2023

The premiers plate is within sight for Melbourne City as they recorded an impressive 4-1 win over 10-man Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park in an entertaining affair. 

Rado Vidosic decided to keep an unchanged starting lineup from the midweek derby fixture, while the Phoenix made two changes from their home loss to the Victory and searching for a result after suffering back-to-back defeats. 

The rain didn’t help the pitch recover from Thursday night’s NRL match, as both sets of players found it difficult to adjust to the slippery conditions. In-form striker Oskar Zawada almost capitalised on a one v one opportunity only to spray his shot wide after four minutes of action. 

Top goalscorer Jamie Maclaren had a couple of opportunities to open City’s account, having his shot blocked from close range as well as finding the side netting before the 25th-minute mark, as they started to slowly get a grip hold of the match.

Some tidy footwork from Macalren helped him find the corner of the net in the 34th minute, breaking his five-game scoreless drought to give the home side the lead.

Controversy ensued right on the stroke of half-time as Zawada seemed to have been caught by the City defender after a great first touch, but the referee had no interest.

Wellington looked dangerous in the final third but lacked the cutting edge and end product to cause Glover real problems, still very much in the game but trailing 1-0 at the break.


Ufuk Talay couldn’t have asked for a better start after the team talk when Steven Ugarkovic polished off a deadly counter-attack from Zawada’s run on the right flank to convert from a fortunate deflection to equalise four minutes after the restart. 

A crazy few minutes followed straight after, as Maclaren added his second by finishing into a relatively open net thanks to an Andrew Nabbout cross to restore their lead on 52 minutes.

Moments later, Callan Elliot showed his defensive qualities when he made an incredible goal-line clearance to deny further damage before Marco Tilio curled home a sensational finish after another Nabbout assist to extend City’s advantage just before the hour mark and really stamp their authority.

Endless waves of City attacks followed until a mistake at the back gave substitute Kosta Barbarouses an opportunity to slot the ball past Glover one v one, only for the shot-stopper to produce a fine save with his extended leg. 

That same sequence would find Joshua Laws in a world of pain, raising his boot into Nabbout’s face on the halfway line, resulting in a straight red card as the Phoenix would have a mountain to climb with more than 25 minutes remaining.

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The only downside for the hosts was Valon Berisha having to be subbed out of the match after what appeared to be a groin injury after 75 minutes.

More open space allowed City to appease their supporters through more attacking football, which led to an inevitable fourth goal in the 83rd minute when fullback Jordan Bos made a great run out wide to whip a cross in for Tilio to tap home his second of the match. 

A 4-1 victory for City puts them seven points clear of Adelaide United with three games remaining with a trip to the Mariners up next, while the Phoenix will be holding their breath as they’re only three points clear of finals and have a crucial match coming up on Sunday at home to the Brisbane Roar.