Melbourne City showed they will be a real title force after sinking Premier’s Plate winners Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium in a high quality encounter which should vindicate a proposed A-League switch from summer to winter.
Playing their first match after the COVID-19 shutdown, City were simply hungrier and shaved the table gap to eight points, but Sydney cannot be dislodged from pole position.
City, Australia’s richest A-League club, is now in the box seat to win one of two 2021 AFC Champions League play off spots after Sydney secured its international tournament group stage ticket last weekend.
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Jamie Maclaren has taken over the sole lead in the top goalscorer race.Source:Getty Images
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After praising his side for playing their best match of the season, City coach Erick Mombaerts endorsed winter as the perfect tonic to boost A-League quality for critical eyes.
“Honestly, it’s better to play in these temperatures and on a perfect ground, and today for our style of play, it was really perfect,’’ Mombaerts said.
“Also, yes, you can produce more effort in this temperature.”
“It’s difficult when it’s very hot to control the game because sometimes the players are very tired, and in Melbourne we don’t have the same (summer) temperature as the rest of Australia.
“And sometimes we were very surprised by the temperatures.”
Mombaerts was also delighted by Craig Noone’s opening goal which was a justified reward for City.
Sydney star Milos Ninkovic gets crowded out.Source:Getty Images
Noone side-footed the ball into an empty net from 10m in the 57th minute to give City a deserved 1-0 lead.
Jamie Maclaren made it 2-0 in the 68th minute when he pounced on a bounce that troubled Sydney centre-back Ryan McGowan before he sprinted towards the box and chipped Andrew Redmayne from 12m.
That goal saw Maclaren take the lead in the race for the golden boot. He now has 19 for the season – one ahead of his Sydney counterpart, Adam Le Fondre, who was kept quiet as the action was mainly with Socceroos gloveman Redmayne.
He kept City scoreless in the first half with a number of world-class saves. Redmayne’s golden gloves, body and feet saw him frustrate Maclaren, Noone, Florin Berenguer and Adrian Luna in the first half.
Sydney did have one super chance but Kosta Barbarouses botched a golden chance to equalise on the hour.
Sydney coach Steve Corica said his side needed to regroup, focus and aim on winning the double after the disappointment.
It was another tough night at the office for Sydney FC.Source:Getty Images
“We look at the big picture, we obviously set our sights on winning the premiership, which we have done, the boys picked that off,’’ Corica said.
“The big picture is the grand final as well, we need to be ready for that.
“We don’t want to switch off now and lose three or four games in a row and go into the semi final underdone.
“These boys have high standards and we’ve got to pick that up to where we left off.”
Melbourne City 2 (Craig Noone 57m, Jamie Maclaren 68m) Sydney FC 0 at ANZ Stadium – Referee: Ben Abraham.
Originally published asRivals smell fear as Sydney falter again
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