·7 January 2023
·7 January 2023
The second A-League Men Grand Final rematch of the 2022/23 season brought an intriguing atmosphere among the backdrop of tarps covering the active support areas, as Melbourne City prevailed over Western United
Within the opening phases of play, both sides were largely expressive in the football played, with Western United aiming to soak up pressure as the ball was progressed forwards.
For the reigning premiers however, their job was made easy as a wayward pass led Marco Tilio to making a lung-busting run, cutting onto his left and finishing with aplomb into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 to City.
City continued to apply the pressure, with an apoplectic defensive showing from Western United leading to Leo Lacroix to putting the ball in the back of his own net.
The pain for the champions continued, as Tilio played an esquisite pass into the feet of Maclaren, who made no mistake and put City up 3-0.
City’s momentum was maintained heading into the half time break with Western United made to lick their wounds.
Prijovic stabbed a shot on goal wide early within the second half, as Western United gained the buck of the attacking forays in the opening phases. Dylan Pierias particularly imposed his influence.
The return of Florin Berenguer from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first ten rounds of the season energised City, with Andrew Nabbout popping up for an exquisite chip past Jamie Young to make it four for the home side
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO LEO LACROIX?
Once heralded as one of the great A-Leagues defenders, his stellar 2021/22 campaign was defined by some as deserving of the Johnny Warren medal. Yet, his start to the season has been nothing but horrid.
Several own-goals, glaring individual mistakes and a lack of confidence has plagued Western United’s season thus far.
Tonight’s performance was demonstrative of a defence that is still not yet composed enough to deal with the intense pressing of Leckie, Maclaren and Tilio, and the once composed Lacroix is a shadow of his old self.
MARCO TILIO TO NEW HEIGHTS
After his inclusion in the Socceroos squad for the FIFA World Cup at the expense of Martin Boyle, Marco Tilio has returned to Australia with a burning desire to silence the doubters.
Having now fully earned his spot on the right flank within City’s starting eleven, his marvellous performance at the heart of the front line is to be commended. With delightful dribbling attributes and a strong eye for goal, Tilio will most certainly command an overseas move in the coming years should he retain his good form.
His composure on the ball was sublime and the manner in which he dropped the shoulder and dashed by Ben Garuccio demonstrated the technical quality that Australian football sorely needs.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR WESTERN UNITED?
The effects of the poor start to the campaign have lingered for Western United, with this result ensuring Western United sit in 10th place, a far cry from the exploits of last campaign.
With an ageing squad, star players wanting out and a lack of consistency defensively, one can only wonder what’s next for John Aloisi’s men, with the former Socceroo touted as a potential replacement for Graham Arnold should the Australian boss not renew his contract with Football Australia.
The coming months loom large for Western United, as they seek to formulate their identity with their training facility due to finish construction sometime this year.
Melbourne City 3 (Tilio 9m, Lacroix OG 12m, Maclaren 24m, Nabbout 85m)
Western United 0
Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
View publisher imprint