Melbourne City claim the A-League Men’s Premier League by a single point after last day’s win over Wellington Phoenix

Patrick Kisnorbo has praised Melbourne City’s resilience during a difficult season after the reigning champions clinched a second successive A-League Men’s Premiership with a 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.

City became the second ALM team after Sydney FC (2016-17 and 2017-18) to win back-to-back Premierships, and will now bid to become the first to complete back-to-back doubles with another possible Championship triumph later this month.

On Monday night, City entered their game against Wellington on 46 points, two behind fierce rivals Melbourne Victory, knowing only a win would seal the silver medal.

Kisnorbo said the Premiership was the culmination of a difficult and emotional nine months, especially after a disappointing exit from the Asian Champions League group stage, while the achievement of coming back was particularly gratifying.

Patrick Kisnorbo watches training with two players standing blurred in the foreground
Patrick Kisnorbo’s career in ALM may be young, but he is already making his mark as one of the best club managers in the country.(AAP: James Ross)

“It’s been a great year, excluding the finals series,” Kisnorbo said.

“Obviously what we’ve had to deal with, and I’m not just saying us, but a lot of clubs, [with] back-to-back games, and they put you in situations that we’ve never been put in before because of the COVID situation.

“Everything is to the credit of the players. We had to get through adversity and maybe get through some public criticism, get through COVID, get through injuries. We have had to overcome many things.

“We have had to play with nine players out, we have had internationals, we have had injuries, three games [in] one week.

A couple of hundred Victory fans packed the north end of AAMI Park to support Wellington and boo the city.

Charging

However, they were silenced after just three minutes when Phoenix’s Sam Sutton scored an own goal, and Jamie Maclaren added City’s second in the 10th minute.

With his fifteenth goal of the season, Maclaren achieved his third consecutive Golden Boot and the fourth of his career.

Wellington’s Ben Waine brought the game back to life by scoring in the 54th minute, but City held on to finish up by a point.

However, Wellington, who failed to finish higher than sixth, were underpowered, clearly with their sights set on Saturday’s away knockout final against Western United at AAMI Park.

Gael Sandoval and David Ball rested while Reno Piscopo started on the bench.

“After the performance in the second half I feel positive, not so much from the first,” said coach Ufuk Talay.

“It was good to have a second half against Melbourne City the way we did. It was pretty close to finals football.”

City and Victory advance directly to the home-and-away semi-finals.

MEN’S LEAGUE FINALS

Final Qualifiers:

* Match A: Western United (3rd) v Wellington Phoenix (6th), Saturday May 14, AAMI Park, 7:45pm AEST

* Match B: Adelaide United (4th) v Central Coast Mariners (5th), Sunday 15 May, Coopers Stadium, 4:05pm AEST

semifinals

* Winner match A v City or Victoria, 17/18 May

* City or Victory vs. Winner Match A, May 21

* Match winner B v City or Victory, May 18

*City or Victoria vs. Game B winner, May 22

Grand finale

Saturday, May 28, 7:45 p.m.

AAP/ABC

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