Melbourne City continued their Asian Champions League campaign overnight, running out 3-0 winners against Philippine outfit United City FC.
The result sees City occupy top spot in our group following the conclusion of the second matchday, news which is sure to put a smile on the face of many a fan who awaken to the result.
In order to combat the fatigue that is sure to follow throughout the group stage hub, Patrick Kisnorbo made five changes to his starting XI.
Notable absentees were our Socceroos front three, as a young trio of Jordan Bos, Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Stefan Colakovski were chosen to lead the line. Another selection worth mentioning was the starting debut of import Tsubasa Endoh, who was selected to play in the middle of the park.
As the match kicked off, City fans who chose to stay up were in no worry of drifting off, as an instant near-disaster at the back ensured everyone watching at home was wide awake.
What should’ve been a regulation headed pass back to the keeper was made a lot more difficult when a lapse in communication between Rostyn Griffiths and Tom Glover nearly caused disaster at the back. Glover, in an attempt to collect the ball, found himself in no man's land as Griffiths nodded the ball past the City gloveman. Fortunately, the experienced center-half was able to get back and mop up the mess, preventing the worst possible start from occurring.
This was about as close as United City got to Melbourne's goal, as from this point on City was utterly dominant. Although not being as slick as we know the side is capable of, the boys were able to dictate all of the play.
City was finding most of its joy down the wings as Colakovski and Bos wreaked havoc on the opposition fullbacks.
Chances flowed early as Endoh flashed a half volley just wide of the post in the 8th minute before City had their first real look at goal in the 10th minute of play.
A trademark Tilio run resulted in a cross that was put on a plate for Bos, who somehow put the ball over the crossbar from six yards out -a chance that surely seemed harder to miss than score.
This wastefulness in spite of overall dominance remained throughout the first half, with CIty’s next chance coming on the stroke of the 26th minute as Tilio’s shot was saved onto the post from the opposition keeper.
City’s persistence was finally rewarded in the 33rd minute as United's attempted headed clearance from a familiar Griffiths switching pass saw the ball fall into the stride of Colakovski, who made no mistake running it into the box and slotting it cooly into the bottom left corner, finally opening his account for the season.
From here City had found their foothold in the game, looking threatening with every attack.
In the 41st, City thought they had doubled their advantage. Bos was able to make a fantastic run down the left wing and found Colakovski unmanned at the back post, seemingly extending our lead before the offside flag was raised, resulting in the score remaining just 1-0.
Unable to create any further chances, this concluded the action for the first half. City entered the rooms happy with a one-goal lead, but slightly disappointed that it wasn’t more, as it felt it perhaps should’ve been.
The second half saw City pick up where they left off, wasting no time getting on the attack.
Colakovski was immediately found in a similar position to his first-half goal, this time placing it just wide of the far post, however.
Shortly afterward, it was only a matter of inches that separated the boys from extending their lead, as Tilio fired a low cross that was met by Raphael, only to be cleared off the goal line.
As the clock struck the hour mark, City was finally able to add a second goal to the scoresheet. Jamieson found Endoh down the left wing, who was then able to play a driven cross into box which Tilio calmly disposed of with no trouble at all. 2-0 City.
This would be the last involvement Jamieson would have, as he was then substituted off for Jamie Maclaren in an attempt to extend our lead.
City fans didn’t have to wait long for the third, as the boys in blue were able to once again find the back of net at the 75th-minute mark. This was arguably the best of the lot, as some intricate passing on the edge of the box saw Raphael play a one-touch pass that found Tilio in acres of space, who again made no mistake in finding his second of the evening.
PK then transitioned his focus onto player management, making a triple substitution that saw the introduction of Jordon Hall and more minutes for newcomer Jordi Valadon, but most notably, Manuel Pucciarelli was also awarded some game time. Many City fans have written off the Italian, but who knows in football, there may be more to this tale yet after all.
The final ten minutes saw the game fizzle out, short on any sort of excitement, and the whistle blew with City running out 3-0 winners.
The result sees City occupy top spot in our group due to superior goal difference. It is worth noting that finishing first in the group must be a priority, as it is the only way to guarantee a place in the play-off stages of the competition, with second spot only resulting in possible progression.
This is dependent on if we are within the top three second-placed teams from the groups in the eastern region. The ACL formatting can be complicated, so the best way to combat this is to claim first place.
City has made a bright start to our campaign so far, and a win in our next match will see us in a fantastic position at the halfway point of the group stage.
All eyes now shift to Friday, as City prepares to take on South Korean outfit Jeonnam Dragons.