McGree, Brattan on target as City outlast gutsy 10-man Jets
Melbourne City scored two goals in five first-half minutes to overcome a gutsy 10-man Newcastle Jets 2-1 in Sunday’s Hyundai A-League fixture.
Roy O’Donovan pounced on an early blunder from Eugene Galekovic but City rallied through Riley McGree’s penalty and Luke Brattan’s thunderbolt either side of Ronald Vargas’ 25th minute dismissal in an action-packed first half.
Newcastle were playing their third match in seven days and had several chances to restore parity in the second stanza but could not find a way past the Hyundai A-League’s most resolute defence.
The seventh-placed Jets have not won at AAMI Park since Round 4 of the 2015/16 Season all things told, while City cement their position in fourth on the Hyundai A-League ladder.
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Galekovic – the hero of City’s 2-0 triumph over Western Sydney on New Year’s Day – swiftly turned villain when he horribly misjudged a long ball and allowed O’Donovan to stroke in a 4th minute opener unchallenged.
But it all went wrong for Ernie Merrick’s side when Venezuelan playmaker Vargas was shown a second yellow card for dissent after he was penalised for handball inside the penalty area.
McGree coolly dispatched the resulting spot kick and City hit the lead five minutes later when Brattan fired a powerful strike past Jets gloveman Lewis Italiano from range.
Newcastle fought admirably in the second half and were in the ascendancy despite their numerical disadvantage as a pedestrian City side took their foot off the gas.
Galekovic courageously stopped Jason Hoffman’s volley with his face and Dimitri Petratos ballooned Daniel Georgievski’s cutback over the bar before the Macedonian struck the foot of the post with a first-time curling effort.