Neither Melbourne City or Victory could take the chocolates in the traditional Christmas Melbourne Derby with both sides fighting out a 2-2 draw at AAMI Park.
One of the most anticipated Melbourne derby clashes in recent seasons, both sides were eager to take out the bragging rights, and it was the Victory who jumped better out of the blocks, as they’d break the deadlock in the 12th minute; Jake Brimmer and Francesco Margiotta cleverly combining on a set-piece for the opening goal.
Marco Rojas would be brought down on the right-wing by Marco Tilio, and Brimmer would waste little time taking the freekick, catching City’s defence off guard, he’d spot up Margiotta who strolled into the centre of the box to score the opening goal of the game.
Despite having majority of possession and little to show for it inside the opening 25 minutes, City would eventually look the more threatening going forward, and came close to equalising in the 28th minute.
Nathaniel Atkinson would go on a clever run and give it off to Florin Berenguer, though his shot from close range would be blocked by Leigh Broxham. Andrew Nabbout would be the next City player to come close to scoring the leveller with Victory keeper Ivan Kelava denying the attacker.
In a heated opening half, tension would further in the 36th minute when Conor Metcalfe would receive a yellow for his foul on Josh Brillante. The foul would be reviewed by VAR, with referee Chris Beath’s initial decision being upheld.
Ahead at halftime, the only blight on the opening half Marco Rojas would come off with an injury concern in 39th minute, having received a hard knock in a tackle earlier in the half, being replaced by Chris Ikonomidis.
The second half start slowly before City found their groove and looked threatening to level up the scores. Andrew Nabbout and Jamie Maclaren who were well contained in the first half began to come into the game, with the duo would combining for the equaliser in the 60th minute. Nabbout would find space wide and play a clever low ball into the box with Maclaren getting on the end of it, scoring from six yards out.
In the 63rd minute City would reverse the deficit, with Nabbout involved again. This time the scorer, left unmarked, he’d head home to put his side ahead, finishing off the cross from Marco Tilio.
Coming off the bench in the 70th minute, Nicholas D’Agostino would take little time to get involved in the contest coming close to tying the scores against the run of play with his header. He’d then equalise 10 minutes later in bizarre cirucmstances.
At the other end of the pitch, Maclaren was through on goal only to see his shot cleared by Kelava. D’Agostino would react best to the long clearing ball to get through one on one with Glover. His low shot would be saved by the City shot stopper, only for it to trickle into the goal to tie the scores.
Despite a series of late flurries, it would be enough to secure a point for the Victory, with the game finishing 2-2.
NO LECKIE, NO PROBLEMS
With Socceroo international Matthew Leckie unavailable for the derby, City had no issues going forward with both Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout combining brilliantly, while Tilio filled in admirably on the wing.
Nabbout would be influential in both of City’s goals, helping Maclaren get on the scoresheet for City’s first goal, before going on to score the go ahead goal three minutes later.
Tilio was also impressive, making several dangerous attacking runs, while also being directly involved City’s second goal with a clever cross.
MARGIOTTA BEGINNING TO FIND HIS TOUCH
Having made little impact in the opening three rounds of the 2021-22 A-League Men’s season, Italian Import Francesco Margiotta is beginning to hit his straps having scored the opening goal of the game.
Having gone goalless in the opening three games of the season, Margiotta has now scored in consecutive games and looks poised to provide the firepower the Victory have been lacking in previous seasons.
VICTORY SURVIVE CITY SURGE
Despite City being on the upper hand for much of the second half, the Victory were able to escape the game with a draw in one the most exciting games of the season.
Having conceded two goals in two minutes midway through the second half, Nicholas D’Agostino would step up in a crucial moment to equalise the game in the 18th minute, scoring just 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
A-League Men Round Five, AAMI PARK
Melbourne City: 2 (Jamie Maclaren 60m, Andrew Nabbout 63m)
Melbourne Victory: 2 (Francesco Margiotta 12m, Nicholas D’Agostino 81m)
HOW DID THE MANAGERS REACT?
Melbourne City: Patrick Kisnorbo
“It was two teams that gave their all…I thought we play some really really good stuff, just two lapses of concentration cost us, but I think for the 90 minutes overall we played some really good stuff,” he said.
“We just kept following our processes we didn’t change anything [in the second half], we were just in the right areas we should of been in as a collective.”
Melbourne Victory: Tony Popovic
“It was a real derby, we want to bring that back obviously after last year it really wasn’t a contest, but we made it a contest today,” he said.
“We brought the passion back on the field and obviously the fans as well felt that Melbourne Victory was back today and competed well”
Image Source: A-League Men