Nathaniel Atkinson jumps onto goalscorer Ritchie de Laet. (AAP Image/George Salpigtidis)
Nathaniel Atkinson jumps onto goalscorer Ritchie de Laet. (AAP Image/George Salpigtidis)

City stun Wanderers with de Laet show

A SUPERB leaping stoppage-time header from Dutchman Bart Schenkeveld snatched a dramatic late win for Melbourne City against plucky Western Sydney.

The win keeps City in touch with the top three, as they bid to qualify for the Asian Champions League for the first time in their nine-year history.

The inconsistent Wanderers threatened to secure a famous win in front of 5149 at AAMI Park on Tuesday night before Keanu Baccus' sending off, when the Wanderers led, changed the moment of the match.

City's persistence with a makeshift striker once again paid dividends, with Belgian Ritchie de Laet scoring a brace.

 

RECORD-BREAKING OPENER

De Laet not only continued to cause havoc playing in an advanced role, but broke a City record en route to his first brace in professional soccer.

Having scored five goals in 198 games prior to coming here with the likes of Manchester United, Leicester City and Aston Villa, de Laet took 31 seconds to capitalise on a woeful backpass from Keanu Baccus and a meek challenge from young keeper Nicholas Suman.

His professionalism and versatility has been a hallmark of City's curious season.

"You know the type of person that he is and the way he conducts himself when you bring him to the club,'' Joyce said.

"There's still plenty to come this season with Ritchie."

It was an A-League game with plenty of entertainment. (AAP Image/George Salpigtidis)
It was an A-League game with plenty of entertainment. (AAP Image/George Salpigtidis)

FOREIGN BATTLE

Markus Babbel and Warren Joyce are two of just three foreign coaches in the A-League, and to their credit they both came out to play.

German Babbel is under pressure in his first season at Wanderland, with his team now sitting 13 points outside the top six, while Joyce is eyeing off the top three.

"We've got to keep on track with the teams higher up. We've got a big game at the weekend, it was an important three points,'' Joyce said.

Babbel lamented a case of deja vu.

"Normal for me, every week the same. What can I say? The game was there to win, too many individual mistakes at the back,'' Babbel said

"The biggest problem we have is that we don't see the danger. We drop too deep."

JANUARY INTRIGUE

Babbel was keen to sign Luke Brattan when the January transfer window opened but quipped that he was "too expensive".

But with eight days to go, he may reignite his interest in the midfielder after he unleashed a thunderbolt to put City ahead just before the break, which proved crucial when factoring in the Wanderers' eventual fightback.

Brattan, who's carved a reputation as one of the A-League's premier playmakers, has enjoyed playing a more advanced role, and scored his second goal of the season.

Both clubs could yet do some more business in January.

Bart Schenkeveld gets the freedom to score the winner. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Bart Schenkeveld gets the freedom to score the winner. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

DRAMATIC FINISH

With less than 10 minutes left, things were getting tense with the small crowd getting on Joyce's back.

Enter City's two visa stars, with de Laet scoring a crucial 84th minute equaliser before Schenkeveld rose to head home his first goal in 42 A-League games.

"I don't think we stole it. Would've been disappointing to come out with nothing, we deserved to win,'' Joyce said.

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News Corp Australia


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