Melbourne City celebrated their first A-League silverware as a narrow 1-0 triumph over Central Coast Mariners secured the Premiers Plate amid a dramatic finish at AAMI Park.
Craig Noone’s headed effort just shy of the hour was enough to earn City the three points and the trophy with three games to spare, but only after enduring a tense finale.
City thought the points were wrapped up when Jamie Maclaren netted with three minutes to play, only for the hosts’ striker to be denied when a VAR check found he had handballed in the build-up when tussling with Kye Rowles.
The Mariners then thought they had a chance to snatch a point in injury time when goalkeeper Mark Birighitti – up at a late corner – won the visitors a penalty.
But once again, VAR intervened with referee Shaun Evans reversing his original call after checking the pitchside monitor, to leave the home fans breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating the confirmation City will finish top at the end of the regular season.
— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) May 22, 2021
Elsewhere, Wellington Phoenix dazzled on their New Zealand homecoming in a 3-0 win over Western United that keeps them on the coattails of the A-League’s top six.
It had been 433 days since Phoenix had played a home fixture at Sky Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic and a bumper crowd of 24,105 was not disappointed.
Clayton Lewis’s deflected 38th-minute opener had Wellington in front at the break and two goals in the space of six second-half minutes from Reno Piscopo and Tomer Hemed had the patient crowd celebrating a comfortable win.
While having the fans back in attendance was a victory itself, the win means Phoenix are just three points shy of Brisbane Roar in sixth with three games to play before the A-League Finals.
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