Manager Patrick Kisnorbo was delighted with Melbourne City’s ability to handle a late injury-forced reshuffle to beat Western United 2-1 in their A-League season-opening rematch grand finale.
City celebrated Scott Jamieson’s 300th game in style despite the captain being forced into central defence, after regular centre-backs Nuno Reis (hamstring) and Curtis Good (knock). ) withdrew. Playmaker Florin Berenguer (hamstring) was also left out.
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“We had to make some last minute changes but it was a great adaptation by the team,” Kisnorbo told reporters. “They showed great character, a great fight and I was happy with tonight’s performance.
“There is never a dull moment as a football coach. Unfortunately, we had a couple of setbacks.
“Last minute change and end of the day, we put Jamo back on and I thought the group’s adaptation was fantastic.
“Nothing really changed, the character, to me, was really good and the players deserve the credit for tonight.”
In the 13th minute, Maclaren made a touch at home, but after a VAR reference, referee Shaun Evans controversially disallowed the goal, ruling that Valon Berisha had hit Ben Garuccio’s back in the run-up.
But in the end, City’s victory came courtesy of two uncharacteristic errors by United’s star defender Leo Lacroix.
The central defender and Tomoki Imai combined for a calamitous own goal in the 38th minute, while Jamie Maclaren took the ball from a slow Lacroix for City’s second in the 59th.
Maclaren doubled City’s lead 14 minutes into the second half when he caught Lacroix wasting time on a pass, took the ball from him and coolly scored.
“Maybe he [Lacroix] He wasn’t at his best tonight, but it’s a performance,” Aloisi said. “I don’t know what to put it down to, but he’s different from Leo.
So let’s hope that Leo is better in the next game and if he is, we know that with a good Leo Lacroix we are a very good team.
“We weren’t at our best tonight. We feel like we were second best overall.”
Imai was substituted with a busted AC joint at half-time and will require scans, while City’s new signing, defender Thomas Lam, was sent off in the 65th.
United substitute Nicolas Milanovic scored a consolation goal in the 92nd minute, but City otherwise dominated.
City’s press was exceptional, while new signing Berisha and Socceroos winger Mat Leckie, with national team boss Graham Arnold watching from the stands, looked a class above.
The Kosovo international also won many fans with his post-match interview.
“He wanted to win, he wanted that revenge for the team,” Berisha told Paramount Plus. “Because they were talking about it, the whole team and I was like, ‘Fuck, this is a big game for us and I want to win it.'”
A typically low-key Kisnorbo said Berisha had “done well” on his debut and believed there was much more to come from his star signing.