'As professional as they come': Three things we learned - Melbourne Derby
In what was one of the most crucial games of our season so far, Melbourne City was able to put the ghosts of previous weeks to bed as we ran out 2-1 victors against cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory.
We'll cut straight to the chase for this one, here are three things we learned from last night's historic Melbourne derby.
As professional as they come
The nerves would've been felt by everyone last night, as this was simply a must-win game.
It didn't need to be pretty or entertaining, we just needed to win. Impressively, the performance put in by the City boys was as professional as they come.
There were many reasons to feel uneasy going into this fixture, whether it be the result in the last derby, being winless in two, or Victory on a bit of climb, it just felt like one of those nights where we'd be really up against it, despite being 1-0 up.
Considering this, it was wonderful to see how the squad handled the task at hand. From the get-go, the game was managed really well I feel. Victory didn't really get a decent look in which was really important and the game felt like it was on our terms.
We forced a chance that was brilliantly dispatched by Aiden O'Neill, who now without doubt has arguably the most unique brace in footballing folklore.
In true City fashion, nothing is done easy and a little lapse late on saw Victory find the back of the net, but by then the job was essentially done.
The performance was a much-needed reminder to the fanbase and league just why we are back-to-back premiers, and how hard we are to beat when we click.
The win sees us regain some much-needed breathing room on Adelaide United who have been hot on our heels for some time now. We now sit five points clear on top of the table with four games to play.
The job is by no means done, but it shifts the pressure back onto the Reds now, as they now can't afford any slip-ups.
As for us, Berisha summed it up in his post-match interview by saying we focus on our games and getting the results we need regardless of what Adelaide does, which is completely correct.
However, we can't deny that the win will ensure everyone around the club sleeps just that little bit easier over the next few days or so.
Aiden 'Record-Breaker' O'Neill:
I know, I know, different week, same talking point, but we just can't look past him.
Aiden O'Neill is putting in one of the best seasons ever seen in league history from a defensive midfielder.
In my opinion, he now comfortably sits at the same table as Aaron Mooy in terms of vitality and influence that he has on the team's performance. His spatial awareness, vision, passing, tackling and general footballing brain are remarkable and it's all only going to get better.
How he pounced on the stray pass that led to his second* goal of the match last night is a testament to the attacking prowess he's been able to add to his game in the last couple of months, which is something I don't think many people thought he had in his arsenal.
Week in and week out he proves he's a cut above the rest, and it's inevitable he'll be plying his trade somewhere in Europe next season.
As sad as it'll be to see him go, we can be proud to see yet another Australian talent be able to use what we have at City to project their career to levels not thought possible.
Aiden O'Neill is truly a star and we should all enjoy what we have left of him, but also be excited to see what's in store for him next.
City now looks forward to an Easter Monday clash against the Wellington Phoenix. We currently have our fingertips on an unprecedented third-consecutive Premiers Plate, but a win on Monday will ensure that grip gets even tighter.