Soccer-Melbourne City in box seat for back-to-back A-League titles

City's 2-1 home win over Wellington Phoenix on Monday ensured they pipped cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory to top the league at the end of the regular season, earning the Premiers Plate for the second year in a row. Both City and second-placed Victory will have a week off before playing two-legged semi-finals against the winners of the elimination finals starting on Saturday.


Reuters | Melbourne | Updated: 10-05-2022 08:21 IST | Created: 10-05-2022 08:21 IST
Soccer-Melbourne City in box seat for back-to-back A-League titles
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Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo praised his team's endurance through a challenging season after the reigning A-League champions moved into pole position to secure back-to-back titles. City's 2-1 home win over Wellington Phoenix on Monday ensured they pipped cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory to top the league at the end of the regular season, earning the Premiers Plate for the second year in a row.

Both City and second-placed Victory will have a week off before playing two-legged semi-finals against the winners of the elimination finals starting on Saturday. The COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with the A-League schedule this season, forcing a raft of match postponements and teams to adapt on the fly.

City had to juggle a disappointing Asian Champions League campaign, eliminated in the group stage after Hong Kong champions Kitchee advanced with a shock 2-2 draw with Vissel Kobe last week. "It's been a big year," Kisnorbo told reporters.

"Obviously what we've had to deal with - and I'm not just saying us, but a lot of clubs - (with) back-to-back games, and you get put in situations that we've never been put in before because of the COVID situation. "It's all credit to the players. We've had to overcome adversity and overcome maybe some public criticism, overcome COVID, injuries. We've had to overcome a lot.

"To get the rewards that they've got tonight ... it's a build-up of emotion just to say that we did something that we set out to do. Now we need to get clear and go again." Third-placed Western United will host sixth placed Wellington at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in the first elimination final on Saturday.

Fourth-placed Adelaide United host fifth-placed Central Coast Mariners in the second elimination final on Sunday. The lowest-placed winner of the elimination finals will meet Melbourne City in the semi-finals, with the highest-placed winner to meet Victory.

Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren netted his 15th goal of the season against Phoenix in the 10th minute, sealing his third consecutive Golden Boot in the league. Maclaren was one of a number of City players who missed out on the team's maiden championship last season while on international duty with Australia's Socceroos.

City will have Maclaren and their other Australian internationals available for this year's finals series, however. "As a goalscorer, sometimes when you go without goals, there’s always a question mark," said Kisnorbo.

"But one thing Jamie has shown, and good players do that, is consistency. It’s consistent over three years."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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