Melbourne City and Victory play out thrilling draw in Christmas derby

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Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory ultimately couldn’t be separated in a Melbourne Derby that well and truly delivered.

An electric atmosphere greeted both sets of players for the first Christmas derby in two years.

The teams were clearly energised by the crowd, as the game commenced in hectic fashion.

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Melbourne Victory landed the first blow. Jake Brimmer sensed an opportunity when he took a free-kick quickly, catching City’s defence off guard and finding Italian Francesco Margiotta to fire in his second goal in two games. The goal came after just 12 minutes, giving Tony Popovic’s side the perfect start.

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Excellent last-ditch defending from Roderick Miranda denied Jamie Maclaren after 35 minutes, before the game threatened to boil over.

VAR called Chris Beath over to the sideline to review a coming together between Connor Metcalfe and Josh Brillante, in which the City midfielder executed a dangerous challenge on Victory’s captain with his studs up. Nonetheless, the officiating team were satisfied that there wasn’t sufficient force in the challenge, offering City a reprieve.

During the commotion, Marco Rojas was subbed off for Victory to be replaced by the debuting Chris Ikonomidis.

City peppered the Victory goal for much of the remainder of the half, but ultimately without success as Popovic’s side held onto their lead into half-time.

City though finally found their response through star striker Maclaren on the hour mark. A poor give away from Ikonomidis fell to Florin Berenguer, whose ball to Andrew Nabbout was crossed to the far post where Maclaren had a simple finish.

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Only minutes later, City flipped the match on its head. This time the cross came from the other side, as Marco Tilio lifted a ball to Nabbout at the back post to head City into an unlikely lead.

A trademark City spell of attacking brilliance, as seemingly from nowhere their forward play clicked and gave them control of the contest.

City were then on the defensive, as Victory searched for an equaliser. Excellent defending from Curtis Good and solid keeping from Tom Glover were both required to keep Victory at bay, as Patrick Kisnorbo’s team edged towards a crucial three points.

Victory though would hit back once more on 81 minutes when a desperate clearance from Kelava somehow travelled all the way through the City team to find substitute Nick D’Agostino. Glover got a strong hand to the ball, but D’Agostino put just enough power behind the shot for it to dribble over the goal line.

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The drama continued to the final whistle, with both sides nearly winning, and Maclaren seeing red.

The game would ultimately finish level, in what was a thrilling Christmas derby. An excellent advertisement for A-League Men’s football, both coaches will be aware of plenty of areas for improvement in each of their teams.

Melbourne City 2 (Maclaren 60’, Nabbout 63’)

Melbourne Victory 2 (Margiotta 12’, D’Agostino 81’)

AAMI Park

Referee: Chris Beath

Assistant Referees: Anton Shchetinin & Ashley Beecham

Fourth Official: Adam Bavcar

Melbourne City: Thomas GLOVER (GK), Scott JAMIESON (c), Nuno REIS (Rostyn GRIFFITHS 67’), Aiden O’NEILL, Jamie MACLAREN, Florin BERENGUER, Nathaniel ATKINSON, Andrew NABBOUT (Scott GALLOWAY 84’), Connor METCALFE, Curtis GOOD, Marco TILIO
Unused subs: Matthew SUTTON (GK), Stefan COLAKOVSKI, Manuel PUCCIARELLI, Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, Anthony LESIOTIS

Melbourne Victory: Ivan KELAVA (GK), Jason GERIA, Rai MARCHAN (Robbie KRUSE 70’), Matthew SPIRANOVIC, Leigh BROXHAM (Stefan NIGRO 79’), Joshua BRILLANTE (c), Francesco MARGIOTTA (Nicholas D’AGOSTINO 70’), Ben FOLAMI (Nishan VELUPILLAY 79’), Roderick MIRANDA, Jake BRIMMER, Marco ROJAS (Chris IKONOMIDIS 39’)
Unused subs: Jerrad TYSON (GK), Jay BARNETT

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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