Melbourne City overcame a heavily disjointed build-up and the absence of coach Patrick Kisnorbo to notch an impressive 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.
Socceroo Jamie Maclaren netted a brace – taking his A-League season tally to seven goals – as City turned in a blistering performance, defying injuries to not only key imports Adrian Luna and Florin Berenguer but also Kisnorbo, who was trapped inside his hotel room due to a bout of food poisoning.
Luna was ruled out with a hamstring injury while Berenguer hurt his ankle in the warm-up at Bankwest Stadium, forcing an 11th-hour change to their starting line-up – yet there was no evidence of any disruption on Tuesday night as City backed up their 3-2 win over Sydney FC last week in sumptuous style.
The Wanderers, in stark contrast, were woeful, slumping to consecutive losses – both at home – for the first time under coach Carl Robinson’s reign.
After a promising start to the season Western Sydney has now won just once in their last five outings – a 2-0 triumph over bottom-placed Melbourne Victory – despite boasting arguably the strongest and deepest squad in the A-League, and appear to be regressing at a time when they should be building.
Maclaren gave City a deserved lead in just the sixth minute, with City’s high press snuffing out an errant pass from Keanu Baccus as the Wanderers tried to play out from defence.
Craig Noone pounced immediately, feeding the ball to straight Maclaren who produced an expert left-footed finish past Daniel Margush.
The night didn’t get much better for Baccus, who was yellow carded for diving in an attempt to win the penalty and then substituted out of the match at half-time for Jordon Mutch.
City could and should have been further in front by that point, with Andrew Nabbout coming closest to extending their lead on the half-hour mark after a darting run down the right, but his shot slammed into the right post.
Maclaren eventually made it 2-0 in the 54th minute from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee spotted a handball by James Troisi, who was turning and lifted his arms to protect his face from being hit by the ball as it was crossed into the box.
The inevitable second-half surge from the Wanderers, after the introduction of Bernie Ibini and Bruce Kamau off the bench, was well contained by City.
The hosts’ best chance came in the 71st minute, when Kamau headed Thomas Aquilina’s volley-cum-cross on target, but Thomas Glover produced a terrific reaction save to keep it out.
The Wanderers face Western United – led by in-form veterans Alessandro Diamanti and Besart Berisha – on Sunday, while City have a derby against Melbourne Victory to come on Saturday night.
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