The season’s first Melbourne derby saw the ladder’s bottom team, Victory, meeting undefeated table toppers, Melbourne City.

The final scoreline - 3-0 to City - does not do justice to the nail-biting show. Neither had scored by halftime, with a headstrong Victory side both agitating and attacking.

However, this is no David and Goliath tale.  City asserted their status as favourites in the second half by knocking away 3 goals in 12 minutes, taking the win in unrelenting style.

Melbourne City - Key points and players

Captain Steph Catley was a dream to watch high on the wing, a position she only recently returned to. With each game, she seems to get more comfortable and creative. Closely marked by Alexandra Cheal the entirety of the game, she still managed to extract chances when cornered up high and play intelligent through balls.

Erika Tymrak was a persistent force on the opposite side. Holding the ball up high against a hungry defensive line, she patiently sought out meaningful options for the forward line. Unafraid to have a crack herself, she was also a key component in a dramatic cluster of shots City had early in the second half.

Despite dominating the stats, City initially struggled to carve out clear cut chances. With the attackers denied space and time by a swarming Victory defence, speed and precision became City’s weapons. Marianna Tabain tapped into this and transformed the game. With excellent placement, she arched the ball over to Fishlock and Catley’s feet in the 65th and 72nd minute respectively. Both shot in style - Fishlock with a neat pass and Catley with a pretty loop over. Serviced by Melina Ayres, Fishlock cemented the scoreline with a seemingly effortless flourish with the outside of her foot in the 76th minute.

“Marianna is a clever player. Especially when they began to congest the middle of the park, we needed her to pop out of spaces and pick up balls facing forward.” - Joe Montemurro

Melbourne Victory - Key moments and players

Victory did not wait for City to set the pace, moving forward early. Their chances came from the usual suspects - Christine Nairn and Natasha Dowie took the bulk, with Melindaj Barbieri and Lia Privitelli also chipping in. Midfielder Adriana Taranto has been a quiet but diligent player this season. This was reflected again this game with her work with Nairn, the two of them shifting the play forward meaningfully.

Victory's defence worked effectively and physically to block chances, which almost certainly helping them break the curse of being scored against in the first fifteen minutes. Whilst their defensively minded strategy did shutout City (for all but 12 minutes of the game, anyway), it also saw them often unable to play the ball out productively into their attacking third.

Before being brought off with injury in the 69th minute, goalkeeper Bianca Henninger had one of her most confident and assertive performances of the season. She communicated clearly with her defence, executed risky but necessary clears and smothered shots from a formidable frontline.

“We always knew it was going to take a bit of time but we continued to play our patterns and we continued to play our style and it was eventually going to happen.” - Joe Montemurro

Melbourne City 3 (Jess Fishlock 65’, 76’, Steph Catley 75’)

Melbourne Victory 0

Sunday 27 November 2016

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-off: 2.30pm

Referee: Katie Patterson

Melbourne City: Lydia Williams (gk), Teigen Allen, Laura Alleway, Aivi Luik, Steph Catley (c), Jess Fishlock, Erika Tymrak (Jacynta Galabadaarachchi 83’), Rebekah Stott, Melina Ayres, Amy Jackson, Marianna Tabain (Tyla Jay Vlajnic 86’)

Substitutes – Kelsey Quinn (gk), Olivia Ellis Cautions – none

Melbourne Victory: Bianca Henninger (gk) (Bethany Mason-Jones 69’), Alexandra Natoli, Alexandra Cheal, Annabel Martin, Lia Privitelli, Ayesha Norrie (Laura Spiranovic 65’), Natasha Dowie, Christine Nairn, Melindaj Barbieri (Rachel Alonso 80’), Adriano Taranto, Samantha Johnson

Substitutes – Gulcan Koca

Cautions – Samantha Johnson 41’