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'Glover deserves the plaudits': Three things we learned - Sydney vs City

It was an interesting match which drew inspiration from recent years of rivalry between Melbourne City and Sydney FC, with the latter side making a strong return to finals football after missing out last season.

The first leg of the semi-final began with positive football going both ways, before Sydney's Robert Mak found himself offside twice in the same play to rule out an Adam Le Fondre goal in the 8th minute. Risky passing out from the back saw Florin Berenguer lose the ball in the midfield, sending Le Fondre forward, forcing a great save from a diving Tom Glover.

Our City boys opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a bullet delivery by Valon Berisha finding the head of Socceroo Mathew Leckie. Of course, VAR tried it's absolute best to rule out the goal with Andy Harper making a fantastic point: "If it's this close, then just let it stand". Thankfully, common sense prevailed as the goal was awarded.

The boys had a couple of great chances to make it two, first with Richard van der Venne nicking the ball from Jack Rodwell but unable to trouble Andrew Redmayne significantly, then with Curtis Good's header striking the crossbar. Super Tommy Glover was the saviour before the end of the half, making a world class double save to retain our advantage going into the break.

It was a 60th minute brain fade from Nuno Reis as he slid in to give away a penalty before the controversy really began. Anthony Caceres had his penalty wonderfully saved by Tom Glover, but it was deemed to be retaken due to encroachment by Callum Talbot. Le Fondre made no mistake as he guided that ball home in the retake. Le Fondre then found himself offside in the build up to Rhyan Grant's goal, rightfully preventing Sydney from taking the lead.

This game was played in true A-League fashion. Drama, a dodgy pitch, goals, controversy. What did we learn? Find out below:

Leckie beats Redmayne to the punch - Source: Melbourne City FC

Marco Tilio and his trademark move

We're certainly seeing the establishment of a fantastic player for not only Melbourne City, but the Socceroos and possibly even the top five leagues of Europe in the not-too-distant future.

One part of his game that has always been apparent - but lately even more effective - is his ability to glide past opponents with ease. We saw this in action against the Wanderers in the final regular season game as Tilio took on multiple players before scoring... twice. Then last night against Sydney, Tilio had the sky blue defenders on red alert as he took himself agonisingly close a couple of times.

As Marco matures and gains more experience as a player - now at 84 City appearances - he becomes more adept at reading the game, and therefore picking his moments to pull out his freakish impersonation of Lionel Messi.

If City don't keep hold of the technical genius that is Marco Tilio for next season, it will be wonderful to see where he goes. Let's just hope that his trademark move remains, and we see it again and again for years to come.

Mistakes creep in again

City fans watching from home, the pub or even the stadium in Sydney were left with their heads in their hands quite a few times due to needless mistakes that creep into our game from time to time.

For example, Nuno Reis put his side under pressure a multitude of times with risky pass-backs, uncertainty on the ball and largely a brain-snap which gave away a penalty. In that point of the game we were building towards another goal, but a needless sliding tackle in a mostly harmless situation was disastrous.

Adding to the issues in the back part of the field, let's bring up the encroachment. It is easy for us as City fans to be bias in our opinions, but VAR got it right in the end. If Talbot hadn't cleared the ball, it may have stood as a save. But since he entered the box early, and got to the ball first, the referee didn't have much of a choice. It was an unfortunate mistake by Talbot, simple as that.

Hopefully if Thomas Lam starts next week and we tidy up our general lack of focus in the back, we will be in a fantastic position to end Sydney's season at our home.

Tom Glover deserves the plaudits

Would you believe that Rhyan Grant won player of the match last night? Such a trivial award, but Tom Glover definitely deserved it.

The 25-year-old shot-stopper has come into his own this season after unfortunately gaining somewhat of a reputation of inconsistency. Glover has made dozens of important saves on our journey to a third straight Premiership, improved his safety under the high ball, and even increased his distribution output (passing completion rate up by 5% from last season, according to

Glover is thought to be leaving for the UK at the conclusion of his contract, meaning we may not see him in City colours next season. If that is the case, we have certainly helped build a promising career for a great young Aussie goalkeeper at Melbourne City, and it is something for our club to be proud of.

Let's hope for another massive performance from Super Tom next week as we head home for the second leg of the semi-final.

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