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City the kings of Melbourne

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Melbourne City have announced themselves as A-League title contenders after claiming a stunning 2-1 Melbourne derby win.

First-half goals from Stefan Mauk and Paulo Retre proved the difference, with John van ‘t Schip’s men withstanding a ferocious second-half effort from champions Melbourne Victory.

Inspired by Besart Berisha, who netted their reply on the cusp of halftime, Victory ran out of ways to miss the chance to equalise.

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Kevin Muscat’s men had shots saved acrobatically by City keeper Thomas Sorensen, cleared off the line, rebound off the woodwork and more in a frenzied finish.

At one stage, Berisha rounded the keeper and ran out of room to tap into an empty net or back across goal to the waiting and unmarked Archie Thompson.

While their effort didn’t deserve it, the result condemned Victory to their worst-ever A-League losing streak.

By contrast, City continue their golden run, rising to second on the A-League table with their fourth-straight success.

On a sweltering Melbourne night, the 23,572 at AAMI Park witnessed a classic derby.

First City surged ahead.

Having left experienced pair Robi Koren and Aaron Hughes out of the starting 11, coach John van ‘t Schip was rewarded by his young guns after 20 minutes.

Ben Garuccio left Kosta Barbarouses and Rashid Mahazi on the floor as he turned on the ball and then crossed for Mauk, whose powerful diving header wrong-footed Danny Vukovic in the Victory goal.

Ten minutes later Retre produced his first A-League goal, against his former employers, to double the lead.

Retre timed his run into the box perfectly to sidefoot into an empty net.

The rout looked on, with Victory struggling to contain their upstart neighbours.

But Berisha gave them a foothold into the match, beating the offside trap to volley home Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s cross.

Victory had arrested City’s momentum and in the second half stole it for themselves.

Sorensen, who was heroic for City then produced a sparkling save, pushing Barbarouses’ header onto the post.

The veteran Danish gloveman denied Berisha twice more from one-on-one chances.

While resisting the Victory tide, City missed their own chances to make the game safe.

Twice Harry Novillo struck wide, while Erik Paartalu found the near post from a tight angle.

Not even substitute Archie Thompson could find a way through, with one effort saved by the inside of Sorenson’s legs.

Victory continued to press on in injury time and Thompson made a trademark run in behind the line before turning and chipping his shot into the arms of Sorenson.

City duly held on for a famous win, celebrating wildly on the final whistle.

– AAP

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