Muscat is Melb City's man to beat Jets

Dec 2, 2017 - 12:11 PM Manny Muscat struck late to end Melbourne City's three-game losing streak and leave Newcastle ruing missed opportunities in a 2-1 defeat at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Muscat, promoted to the starting side, scored with a powerful right-foot strike from a goal mouth scramble in the 86th minute in a game the second-placed Jets dominated in rain-affected conditions.

The Saturday night round-nine win lifted third-placed City to 16 points, one behind Newcastle.

Back-up City gloveman Dean Bouzanis was a late call-up to the starting side after Eugene Galekovic was injured in the warm-up and he kept the visitors in the game early.

Joey Champness, Steve Ugarkovic, and Jason Hoffman forced Bouzanis into saves as the Jets' in-form attack peppered City in the opening 20 minutes.

However, it was a stray City boot that eventually set up Newcastle's opener in the 32nd minute.

A challenge in midfield sprayed to Andrew Nabbout up front.

The striker's first shot was blocked by Bouzanis but the rebound fell perfectly for Nabbout, who finished into an open net.

The hosts continued to hold the bulk of possession but City struck next when Jets captain Nigel Boogaard was penalised for a push into the back of Scottish international Ross McCormack from a Nick Fitzgerald cross.

McCormack, on loan from Aston Villa, converted from the spot in the 40th minute.

The victory broke a four-game winless run for City.

Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce believes his side were unlucky in their previous four games and said they "showed a tremendous amount of spirit in the second half to drive the game" against the Jets.

"We thoroughly deserved the result," he said.

Joyce acknowledged, though, the starring role of late replacement Bouzanis in the win.

"He made some great saves," he said.

"It's not easy for him to come in at short notice like that.

"Obviously he's not had a game for a while and at five minutes' notice, it's every credit to himself.

"The way he's conducted himself fitness-wise and in training to give himself a chance to put in a performance like that. I thought he was magnificent tonight."

Jets coach Ernie Merrick was disappointed the penalty decision against his side was not reviewed but he couldn't fault the effort of his squad, which was missing five regular starters to injury.

"I thought we played extremely well in the first half," he said.

"Considering we had five under 20s in the squad and three of them started, I thought we played some great football.

"The interpassing and movement - their goalkeeper pulled off some very saves.

"I have to say I was really disappointed the VAR didn't review the penalty. I thought that was the whole point of it because we didn't think it was a penalty."

Source: AAP

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