ON THE BALL: Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli shields the ball from Jets defender Daniel Georgievski at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night. Picture: Darren Pateman (AAP)IT was billed as a dress rehearsal ahead of a likely date in an A-League grand-final qualifier in four weeks time.
If that is the case, Melbourne City will travel to Newcastle full of confidence after inflicting a 3-0 thumping of the Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
A Bruno Fornaroli strike in the 43rd minute and a second-half double toDario Vidosic (53rdand 77th) gave Citya psychological advantage if, as expected, they meet again.
The Jets (47 points) are locked in second place. That won’t change.
City have moved to third place on 40 points and finish with matches against the Mariners and Phoenix. Two wins would set up an elimination clash at home against the sixth-placed side. The winner of that match meets the Jets for a place in the grand final.
The Jets’ loss to City followed a 5-2 thrashing to Adelaide.
What was a dip in form is threatening to become a slump.
After conceding 25 goals in 23 games, they have leaked eight in two.
Sunday was the first time this season the Jets have not hit the back of the net, ending a club record at 24 games.
Roy O’Donovan, who returned from suspension, Riley McGree and Dimi Petratos went close for the home side, but their attack lacked thefluency and pace of earlier in the campaign.
The Jets have two games (Perth at home and Central Coast away) to find their mojo.
With Fornaroli and teenage sensation Daniel Arzani running riot, City took a deserved 1-0 lead into break.
On another night, the visitors could have been up 3-0.
City dominated possession and territory. They delivered 16 balls into the box, created nine shots to five and led the corner count 5-2.
The Jets were continually stretched and it was Arzani who caused most of the problems.
The 19-year-old has pace to burn and used it to great effect
He burst down the right in the 14thminute and curled in a cross for Stefan Mauk. Five minutes later he threaded a passinto the box for Fornaroli. Both times Jets Jack Duncan did enough to knock the ball clear for corners.
The keeper had Ivan Vujica to thank in the 32ndminute. The left back took the ball off the foot of Fornaroli as the Uruguayan was about to fire into an open net after a Duncan scramble.
City continued to threaten and deservedly took the lead in the 43rdminute.
After fitting the woodwork with a spectacular side volley, Fornaroli was on the spot to slot home after the Jets had failed to clear a corner.
The Jets’ best chance of the half was from a set piece in the 16th minute.
Ronny Vargas, who was heavily involved and looked far more confident in his fourth game backfrom a broken ankle, drew a freekick out of Vidosic on the edge of the box. Petratos beat the wall with a curling attempt but not a diving save from Dean Bouzanis.
The Jets’ task became more difficult eight minutes into the second half when Vidosic climbed above Vujica at the back post to head home a corner and double the advantage.
Vidosic completed the scoring with a stinging freekick in the 77thminute.