19/04/2024

Melbourne City take bragging rights in the first derby clash of the season. (Image: Melbourne City FC/Twitter)

Melbourne City remains the only side to take maximum points from the first opening three A-League Men fixtures with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Melbourne Victory in the first derby of the season.

Having been unable to defeat their fierce crosstown rivals in the last four encounters, City finally got their win back, with a passage of two minutes early in the opening half enough to see their opponents off.

In front of nearly 24,000 fans, AAMI Park was rocking once again for a derby and it’d prove to be a memorable night for the City faithful.

The events which led to City’s first goal would be the first of a comedy of errors for their opponents, in a night which wouldn’t drama.

Marquee man Luis Nani would take out City winger Mathew Leckie’s ankle just inside the box. After initially waving penalty claims off, referee Alireza Faghani would then award it after referring to VAR.

Jamie Maclaren, with the responsibility to put his side ahead, seized the moment and scored from the spot. An own goal from from Victory full-back Cadete would double City’s advantage inside the opening 20 minutes.

Putting their opponents’ backs to the wall early, the Victory would then be dealt another blow 10 minutes before half time with skipper Josh Brilliante getting sent off for his challenge on Aiden O’Neill.

Down to 10 men and two goals down, it’d prove too tough of a mountain to climb. Though they’d remain gallant and continue to push City, they wouldn’t overcome the two goal deficit.

Speaking post-game, City coach Patrick Kisnorbo acknowledged it was a tough encounter, and was pleased with how his side asserted themselves in a crucial fixture.

“I think it was [a game with] two teams going to battle, in the first half you could see the level of [intensity from] both teams,” he told media..

“We were very good in what we did, second half [showed] there’s some areas we need to improve on, but we still created the chances [like we did in the first half]. But at the end of the day, [their] keeper made a couple of very good saves.

“But I’m happy with the character shown by the players, in derby games they’re a bit different [to other fixtures]. Sometimes performance has to take a step back and obviously the fighting and work rate takes over, and that’s what I’m happy with tonight.”

Though the City boss was pleased to come away with the win, he’d be critical of how his side fared in the second half.

While he felt the side’s attitude was good, he claimed the team didn’t take full advantage of having the extra man in the second half.

“It would of obviously have been nice to get rewarded for some of the great plays we did,” he said.

“I wanted to control the game a bit more even though in certain areas we did, but I wanted to control the game more [than we did], but obviously a derby game is a bit different.

“The character we showed and the fighting spirit [overall] was fantastic.”

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Having played a combined 17 minutes across the opening two fixtures, Marco Tilio was finally given his first start of the season. The Socceroos squad member is still yet to assert himself into Kisnorbo’s starting team on a regular basis.

Putting in a modest performance, Kisnorbo was complimentary of the 21-year-old’s game.

Believing that he’s got all the qualities to develop into a star player, the coach says that he’ll continue to challenge the youngster.

“[Tilio was] really good at times, would’ve be nice to see him get rewarded for his creativity, but I’m just happy that he’s there in those right time in terms of putting the ball where he should be,” Kisnorbo said.

“He’s very good at dribbling and you can see that, but you just want to keep improving him and [want him] to try get better. That’s what we’re focusing on, [to] try push him and get some consistency off him every day.

“I won’t stop pushing Marco just because he’s played 90 minutes tonight, I’ll push him again tomorrow and the next day because you want to get these players to be the best they can.”

Defender Jordan Bos also put in an encouraging performance. The 20-year-old was tasked with man-marking Nani for most of the night, and the young defender more than held his own.

Though impressed with his game, Kisnorbo was measured with his compliments, saying he was hoping it wasn’t just a one-off night and battling the top opposition players is something the defender can bring consistently.

“Jordan has been in our system for a long time now, [he’s been with the club] since he was a kid,” he said.

“It’s great to see him get the rewards through hard work, effort [and] dedication. Even though he played on one of the world’s best players at one stage [in] Nani, you need to look beyond that and see can he keep doing it week in and week out.

“Consistency is the big thing [for me]. Sometimes we get carried a way when a young boy plays a good game, we need to pipe down a bit and be realistic and say he’s done well [for us tonight].

“But I was very happy with him today.”

The only negative to come out of the game occurred before a ball was even kicked, with veteran Scott Jamieson being a late withdrawal with a strained groin.

It’d mean Curtis Good would come in as a late inclusion, and straight into the starting line-up after an extended stint on the sidelines.

Kisnorbo gave an update on Jamieson, saying he believed the defender would make a quick recovery while also pleased with how Good played in his first game back.

“I think he’s [Jamieson] okay, he’s been seen by the medical [team] and we’ll get clarification of where he is this week,” he said.

“I think he tweaked it [his groin], it happens. Credit to Curtis when he came in, he adapted really well.

“There was no change [from his usual output] and I was really happy with Curtis’ performance, but also the collective [team performance] was pretty good.”

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