Two late second half goals saw Auckland City FC pipped by a slick Melbourne City FC in Bundoora this afternoon.
Auckland City FC matched their A-League hosts in a tight first half with neither side able to create a clear-cut scoring chance in the first 20 minutes.
The Oceania champions were restricted to working around a highly talented full time professional outfit at the end of an intense four month lead-in to the start of the A-League.
The visitors best chances came from wide areas with Takuya Iwata getting into good positions but unable to find team-mates with an accurate final pass.
The teams went in level at the break but Melbourne City had a clear advantage in possession with 62 percent to Auckland City FC’s 42 percent.
With the Stirling Sports Premiership side having had less than 12 days together in pre-season and Melbourne City coach John van’t Schip emptying his bench in the second half fitness and quality were going to be a factor.
Tim Cahill appeared and had the ball in the net twice but each was ruled out for offside. Melbourne City then had shouts for a penalty waved away by referee Jack Morgan when it appeared Iwata fouled Bruce Kamau.
Auckland City FC survived a raft of set-pieces but for all Melbourne City’s superiority in possession they found the New Zealand outfit difficult to penetrate.
With ten substitutions made including Cahill, Josh Rose, Bruce Kamau and Daniel Arzani, it was inevitable gaps would appear in the Auckland City FC defence.
It was Arzani who carved out the opportunity to open the scoring with 15 minutes left when he picked out Nicolas Colazo who scored with a brilliant right foot shot past Drake.
Drake then got in on the act when Cahill conceded a foul on halfway and the goalkeeper tested out his opposite number Bouzanis who needed to be sure of himself to make the save.
Cahill then popped up a minute into injury time to double Melbourne City’s lead with a regulation tap-in from a Kamau cross.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx drew positives from the exercise where they defeated a Melbourne City A side 5-1 alongside this 2-0 loss.
“I’m not really too concerned with the result today. We played a good game but with the ball it is our real strength.
“We’ve got a long way to travel in terms of our quality in possession. I believe we can do that better than we did today,” he says.
Restricted to just a handful of chances in the match, Tribulietx identified key areas he wants to see improve.
“But when we won the ball back we seemed to give it away straight away.
TIM CAHILL – TWITTER: @Tim_Cahill
“We’re a team that bases what we do on possession so we can do this part of the game better,” he says.
Melbourne City, considered one of the Hyundai A-League’s top sides, made life tough for Auckland City FC when they went to their bench.
Auckland City FC return to New Zealand tomorrow morning and next face Waitakere United in another pre-season friendly on October 1.
AUDIO – Danyon Drake (Auckland City FC)
Sunday 25 September 2016
Melbourne City FC 2 (Nicolas Colazo 77′, Tim Cahill 90+1′)
Auckland City FC 0
REFEREE: Jack MORGAN
AR1: Wilson BROWN
AR2: Daniel ILIEVSKI
MC: Dean BOUZANIS (GK), Christian CAVALLO, Michael JAKOBSEN, Manny MUSCAT, Osama MALIK, Denis GENNEAU, Luke BRATTEN, Fernando BRANDON, Nick FITZGERALD, Bruno FORNAROLI, Braedyn CROWLEY.
SUBS: James DELIANOV (GK), Ruan TONGYIK, Josh ROSE, Connor CHAPMAN, Neil KILKENNY, Anthony CARCERES, Paulo RETRE, Daniel ARZANI, Nicola COLAZO, Tim CAHILL, Bruce KAMAU.
COACH: John VAN’T SCHIP
AC: Danyon DRAKE (GK), Takuya IWATA, Angel BERLANGA, Dae Wook KIM, Darren WHITE, Mario BILEN, Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, Clayton LEWIS, Emiliano TADE, Joao MOREIRA, Ryan DE VRIES.
SUBS: Yanni SKLIROS (GK), Reid DRAKE, Nicolai BERRY, Marko DORDEVIC, Dylan BURNS, Fabrizio TAVANO, Harry EDGE, Alfie ROGERS.
INJURED: Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK) – concussion (two weeks)
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX
Shots on target MEL 4-1 AKL
Shots off target MEL 1-1 AKL
Blocked MEL 4-1 AKL
Saves MEL 2-0 AKL
Corners MEL 5-0 AKL
Offsides MEL 4-1 AKL
Possession MEL 61% AKL 39%