Melbourne City rain on Corica’s parade despite Amini brilliance

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Melbourne City put a damper on Steve Corica’s 100th game celebrations, as the Sky Blues lost for the fifth time this season despite the best efforts of midfield powerhouse Mustafa Amini.

City have compounded last year’s grand final pain upon their Sydney rivals as Matthew Leckie stunned the crowd at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium with a staggering 91st minute winner, despite a standout performance from the Sky Blues’ new signing.

A blistering run from the former Borussia Dortmund man inside the opening two minutes came close to threatening Tom Glover’s goal, as the midfielder broke through two tackles but sent the off-balance shot just wide of the post.

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Amini’s devastating presence in midfield would continue with a clever side-footed pass to Adam Le Fondre which left Glover in no man’s land, but the goalkeeper’s blushes were ultimately saved as the Englishman fired wide.

Sydney continued to threaten on the attack as the rain set in at Jubilee but both an Anthony Caceres shot from long range, and a piercing run from Rhyan Grant down the wing came to no avail for the Sky Blues as the latter clumsily lost his footing inside the box.

The Sky Blues’ best chance of the game at that point arrived courtesy of Milos Ninkovic as the Serbian’s shot at the half-hour mark was expertly saved by Glover. City’s counter attack from the resulting corner, however, paved the way for a Leckie attempt on goal as Andrew Redmayne’s subsequent save cruelly rebounded for a Paulo Retre own goal and made it 1-0 to Melbourne.

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The Sydneysiders headed into the half-time break trailing and scoreless, despite having more possession and double the amount of shots as their Melbourne opponents. They looked rightfully determined to overturn their season-defining narrative as Elvis Kamsoba shot wide within the opening two minutes of the second 45.

Just minutes later, a loose ball off the back of a Sydney corner fell to the trusty feet of Ninkovic, who belted the shot into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Glover to make it 1-1.

In a remarkable turn of events, however, the Serbian veteran lost his normally reliable shooting boots as he squandered a golden one-on-one chance on goal, with Amini’s follow-up attempt also failing to find the net.

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The Sky Blues looked set to rue their missed opportunities on goal yet again this season as the shots dried up at either end over the next half-an-hour of play, despite the appearances of Bobo, Kosta Barbarouses and Max Burgess off the bench for Sydney.

As all three subs failed to make any discernible impact upon the final minutes of the game, Redmayne breathed a sigh of relief as Jamie Maclaren shot wide with 15 minutes to go.

But the relief did not last for long, as a sensational grounded finish outside the box from Leckie in stoppage time broke the hearts of Sydney fans and players alike to make it 2-1.

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The subsequent defeat leaves the Sydneysiders’ top six finish in considerable doubt, whilst their Victorian opponents climb to the top of the A-League Men’s table for the time being.

Sydney FC: 1 (Ninkovic 53′)

Melbourne City: 2 (Retre 32′ OG)

Stadium: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Referee: Chris Beath

Assistant Referees: Anton Shchetinin, Ashley Beecham

Fourth Official: Ben Abraham

Sydney FC: Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), James DONACHIE, Alexander WILKINSON, Paulo RETRE, Milos NINKOVIC (Max BURGESS 80′), Callum TALBOT (Connor O’TOOLE 59′), Adam LE FONDRE (BOBO 59′), Rhyan GRANT, Elvis KAMSOBA (Kosta BARBAROUSES 70′), Mustafa AMINI, Anthony CACERES

Unused subs: Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK), Ben WARLAND, Trent BUHAGIAR

Melbourne City: Thomas GLOVER (GK), Nuno REIS, Rostyn GRIFFITHS (Marco TILIO 60′), Scott GALLOWAY (Scott JAMIESON 45′), Carl JENKINSON, Curtis GOOD, Connor METCALFE, Florin BERENGUER, Andrew NABBOUT, Jamie MACLAREN (c), Mathew LECKIE

Unused subs: Matthew SUTTON (GK), Taras GOMULKA, Tsubasa ENDOH, Stefan COLAKOVSKI, Kerrin STROKES

Featured image credit: Melbourne City

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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