Melbourne City line-up for the pre-match handshake with the Melbourne City Pride shirt on. (Photo Credit: Steven Poletti)

Melbourne City turned up to AAMI Park for the Pride Celebrations to send two messages. That Melbourne City is for everyone, and that the rest of the league needs to watch out as the league leaders extended the separation at the top of the table in a victory over Sydney FC.

On the pitch, it was the Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio show, with Maclaren scoring a brace and Tilio scoring a goal-of-the-season contender, being allowed to slice his way down the pitch at will before slotting one from 20 yards out past Andrew Redmayne.

Sydney was not without their chances, however, but the visitors just could not find the finishing touches when it was needed with all the chances created, with Robert Mak scoring Sydney’s first.

Diego Caballo ripped in a rocket of a free kick in the 96th minute past Tom Glover to make things a little interesting, but the whistle blew almost immediately upon the resumption of play to see City win 3-2.

“[I’m] disappointed with the start that we made,” Sydney FC coach Steve Corica said post-game.

“We knew, obviously coming here, it’s a difficult place to come. They got beat last week in the derby, so we knew they were going to respond in that way.

“That was for me the most disappointing thing about that game. We gave them the opportunity to score two goals early on.

“After that, we worked hard to get back into the game, [and] probably had more possession in the end.

“But I think, you know, it’s difficult to go 2-0 down and try to catch up from, you know they’re a very good team obviously.

“We need to do a lot better with the goals that we conceded.”

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Off the pitch, the Pride Celebrations were in full swing. City used the colouring of the progress flag for their team sheet graphic on social media and most of the sponsor signage, as well as in-stadium graphics. The players wore the City Pride shirt out for the pre-match line-ups, and the club had some merchandise available for purchase.

The precinct outside of AAMI Park had notable displays of the celebrations, but that is in part as well for the Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United double header also taking place across the weekend.

“We are very proud to be taking part in that at this moment,” Melbourne City coach Rado Vidosic said when asked about his thoughts about the display that City put on for the Pride Celebrations.

“[The] boys wore the t-shirts as a part of [the] celebration. You know, maybe we [could have] had [a] little bit more supporters [in the stands] but maybe they were a bit afraid to get wet.

“Hopefully we’ll get more supporters in the next few games and can celebrate with the team.”

Previously the coach of the A-League Women’s team at Melbourne City, Vidosic has a close relationship with that squad.

But does the close relationship he has with that squad make the celebrations extra special?

“Absolutely. I watched them yesterday. They had a training game at our training fields and they were all looking forward, they were a little bit disappointed that they are not playing this weekend,” he said.

“They’ve got a bye but they’re probably going to come tomorrow to watch Adelaide versus Melbourne Victory and be part of the celebration in the grandstand.”

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