City will be without star goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri in the preliminary final after a dramatic A-League Women semi against Sydney FC.
Melbourne City coach Rado Vidosic has called on his depleted squad to win next week's preliminary final for their suspended goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
Melbourne City preliminary final
- Melbourne City will play in the Preliminary Final after their semi-final defeat on Friday.
- They will face the winner of the Adelaide United - Melbourne Victory match.
- City will be without Tyla-Jay Vlajnic and Melissa Barbieri who picked up red cards in the last match.
More A-League Women's news can be found on The Women's Game.
His plea comes after the four-time champions slipped to a painful extra-time defeat against Sydney FC on Friday.
Melbourne City were just a couple of minutes away from a spot in the grand final when Sydney FC equalised in injury time before romping to a 4-2 win at Jubilee Oval.
To compound City's anguish ,they lost experienced midfielder Tyla-Jay Vlajnic to a red card, before Matildas veteran Barbieri suffered the same fate in the dying minutes of extra time after handling outside the box.
How costly was the loss for @MelbourneCity last night?— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) March 11, 2022
Tyla-Jay Vlajnic and Melissa Barbieri will miss City's Preliminary Final against Adelaide United or Melbourne Victory after both players were sent off. 🟥#SYDvMCY #HereComeTheFinals #WeAreALeagues pic.twitter.com/JacJCTQhL8
The pair will both miss next weekend's match where City will take on the victor of Sunday's elimination semi-final between the in-form Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory.
Sydney FC will host the grand final at Jubilee Stadium on 27 March.
The 41-year-old Barbieri, who is the longest serving male or female national league player by some margin, is currently only contracted until the end of the season.
"Hopefully, tonight won't be her last match and she can play in the grand final - I think we owe her that," said City coach Rado Vidosic.
"She is very distressed but we can't question her decision (that led to the red card).
"She had been unbelievable for us on and off the pitch."
City seemed comfortably on track for victory thanks to a Hannah Wilkinson double, before Cortnee Vine pulled a goal back midway through the second half.
It's the Hannah Wilkinson show!— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) March 11, 2022
The Kiwi international scores her second goal after some lovely build up play from Rebekah Stott and a terrific assist from Leticia McKenna.@MelbourneCity are almost there!
Match blog: https://t.co/F3EZWCPf5d#SYDvMCY #HereComeTheFinals pic.twitter.com/GZqrsGFfRy
A fast-finishing Sydney FC drew level through Maria Jose Rojas, before extra-time goals from teenager Sarah Hunter and a second from Vine.
The goal that sends @SydneyFC to another @LibFinancial A-League Grand Final.— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) March 11, 2022
Cortnee Vine was inspirational tonight, as she came off the bench to score a brace. #SYDvMCY on @ParamountPlusAU
Match wrap: https://t.co/F3EZWCPf5d#WeAreALeagues #HereComeTheFinals pic.twitter.com/reZ19ZZs77
Vlajnic suffered an ankle injury in the challenge that led to the red card, while Winonah Heatley also went off injured with both in doubt for the preliminary final.
"We played against the best team in the league and to be so close is devastating," Vidosic said.
"We had a go, gave it our best and it just wasn't good enough unfortunately."
It was the first loss suffered by City in eight A-League Women finals matches, having conceded just two goals in the process.
"It was an epic encounter which wasn't a surprise given City are such a good team," said Sydney FC coach Ante Juric.
The Sky Blues boast a strong affinity with Jubilee Stadium, having won the 2019 grand final and 12 of their past 13 matches at the southern Sydney venue.
"Football-wise, playing here is important, but we need to capitalise on that," Juric said.
"We enjoy playing here, we get a good crowd and I think they deserve to see us playing here."
The full A-League Women's schedule can be found using this link.