Melbourne Victory moved into the Liberty A-League Grand Final after a 3-1 win over City in a Derby Preliminary Final on Sunday.
The Champions produced a dominant display at AAMI Park and deservedly booked a spot in a fourth Grand Final.
Melina Ayres and Claudia Bunge scored in the first half before Lia Privitelli’s second-half strike as Victory set up a repeat of last season’s decider against Sydney FC.
Tori Tumeth pulled a goal back for City late on, but Victory comfortably saw out a deserved win.Victory had a glorious chance to open the scoring through Ayres in the fifth minute.
A pass released the forward in behind, but Ayres directed her shot off target with only City goalkeeper Sally James to beat.
Leticia McKenna forced a comfortable save from Victory shot-stopper Casey Dumont before Rebekah Stott volleyed wide for City.
Dumont made a far better save in the 11th minute, brilliantly tipping away a long-range effort from Stott.
Victory continued to create the more clear-cut chances, with Alex Chidiac firing straight at James after a superb pass from Ayres.
The opener would arrive for Victory on the half-hour mark.
Ayres intercepted a pass from Emma Checker before producing a fine finish in off the post to make it 1-0.
Another wonderful chance went begging for Victory five minutes later as Catherine Zimmerman missed the target from a Privitelli cross from the right.
But Victory deservedly doubled its lead on the stroke of half-time, Bunge poking in a Courtney Nevin corner at the back post.
Just eight minutes into the second half and it was 3-0 thanks to Privitelli.
A cross from Chidiac from the left eventually fell to Ayres, who set up Privitelli to sweep in an excellent left-footed finish.
Privitelli almost added a fourth for Victory with 11 minutes remaining, but the attacker was denied in a one-on-one by James after a pass from Ayres.
Instead, City pulled a goal back through Tumeth, who headed in a corner from close range.
Hannah Wilkinson squandered a chance for City before Zimmerman saw a powerful long-range strike well saved by James in additional time.
What they said – Bunge
on the game…
“It’s been an up and down season. We’ve had a lot thrown our way, but we’re buzzing that we got the result today and credit to City, it was a really good game, typical Derby I think, and we’re just so stoked.”
on keeping Wilkinson quiet…
“Obviously ‘Wilky’ has been in good form for these guys. We talked about that during the week, that she’s one of their main outlets. I think Brooke (Hendrix), AJ (Amy Jackson) and I did a good job at shutting her down today. She obviously snuck one in at the end, but I think we did pretty well.”
Player in focus
Chidiac was tremendous for Victory. The midfielder delivered a performance filled with energy to lead Victory to its win.
Victory set up a repeat of last season’s Grand Final, with Sydney FC awaiting it in the decider.
Liberty A-League 2021/22 Preliminary Final
City 1 (Tori Tumeth 80′)
Melbourne Victory 3 (Melina Ayres 30′, Claudia Bunge 45+2′, Lia Privitelli 53′)
City: James (gk); Torpey, Tumeth, Checker (c), Blissett (Karic 56′); Davidson, Heatley, Stott; McKenna, Wilkinson, Pollicina.
Melbourne Victory: Dumont (gk); Doran, Bunge, Hendrix, Nevin; Jackson (Eliadis 74′), Chidiac, Cooney-Cross (Murphy 90+4′); Privitelli (c), Ayres, Zimmerman.
Yellow cards: Torpey 66′, Checker 69′, Doran 72′, Karic 73′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: AAMI Park
Victory will face Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium on Sunday, March 27, in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final.