Shayon Harrison’s dynamite dribbling has helped Melbourne City end their A-League season on a high, with a 5-0 win over Central Coast.
But paradoxically, the belting could cost City as they aim to reach a first grand final in the club’s history.
Warren Joyce’s side ended their Mariners hoodoo at AAMI Park, overcoming the wooden spooners for the first time this season in emphatic fashion.
Harrison scored a classy brace to bookend Riley McGree’s volley and Dario Vidosic’s tap-in on Friday night.
Ramy Najjarine then netted a rocket for his first A-League goal, putting Alen Stajcic’s sorry outfit to bed.
The win takes City equal on points with fifth-placed Wellington, who travels to play premiers Perth on Sunday.
That result at HBF Park will now determine the final make-up of the finals.
Should Glory beat the Phoenix, expected to be under-strength, by two goals, City will head to Adelaide for their elimination final instead of staying home for a derby with rivals Melbourne Victory.
Given City are on a 12-game unbeaten streak at AAMI Park, haven’t lost to Victory this season, and captain Scott Jamieson has labelled Victory as their preferred finals opponents, their 4-0 win could well be bittersweet.
At least City will enter the finals with a head of steam courtesy of their big win.
Joyce rested a string of key players – including marquees Jamie Maclaren, Ritchie de Laet and Eugene Galekovic – keeping the finals in mind.
Harrison transformed a staid affair on 34 minutes with his fancy footwork.
The Tottenham Hostspur loanee jinked past Matt Millar, Jacob Melling and Jem Karacan before toe-poking past Jack Clisby. That delightful effort laid a base for City to go on a spree.
McGree leathered a close-range volley from Jamieson’s curling cross before the break.
After it, Luke Brattan won possession and set up Lachie Wales, who slid a low cross for Vidosic to get in on the act.
Then Harrison reappeared to score a second, latching onto Wales’ through ball, completing a 20-minute four-goal rout.
They weren’t finished, with Najjarine netting a breakaway effort in injury-time to equal City’s biggest all-time win.
Joyce also threw on Idrus Abdulahi late in the match, making the 16-year-old the youngest man to represent the club.