City fend off Phoenix in chaotic AL clash

·2-min read

Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo hailed his side's character after they staved off Wellington Phoenix for a 3-2 victory to come out on top in an action-packed A-League encounter in Wollongong.

City briefly looked like suffering the rare fate of throwing away leads in two successive matches after Phoenix twice came from behind.

Instead, young substitute Marco Tilio chose the perfect time to net his maiden goal for the club seven minutes from fulltime as City earned all three points.

City's six-match winning run came to a halt last Thursday as Western United came from behind for a 2-1 win.

City dominated long periods of this match at WIN Stadium but a spirited Phoenix fightback had last season's runner's up on the back foot for periods of the second half.

"Credit to the players, they did everything they possibly could to get the win," Kisnorbo said.

"I'm not really upset about the chances that we missed, (I'm) happy with what we created, but mostly proud of the way we showed our character."

Kisnorbo said it was crucial his side put last Thursday's defeat against Western United behind them.

City, a side once known for a flaky underbelly, briefly looked like they would throw away a lead for the second time in four days as Phoenix mounted an unexpected comeback.

The Melburnians created a mountain of chances in the match but had to make do with a 2-1 lead at the break.

Curtis Good opened the scoring and Jamie Maclaren restored the lead after Tomer Hemed had drawn Phoenix level.

City had several opportunities to put the contest to bed before Ulises Davila restored parity for the second time early in the second half.

"It was important last week's game didn't weight us and really important in the way we bounced back," Kisnorbo said.

"Even though they scored twice we were able to keep pushing forward for the win.

"I was also really happy with the subs that came on, they really made a great impact."

It wasn't all good news for City who lost defender Nathanial Atkinson early in the match to what seemed a potentially nasty hamstring injury.

Maclaren's goal was the Socceroo striker's 92nd in the A-League to join Shane Smeltz as the league's second highest goalscorer behind Besart Berisha.

It was something of a bittersweet outing for Phoenix who, despite the brave comeback, remains seven points away from the top-six.

"It was very disappointing for us because we really wanted three points to stay in touch," said Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay.

"I thought Oliver (Sail) was probably our best player, which is probably not a good thing when the goalkeeper is the best player but he did keep us in the game."