A–league side Melbourne City FC kick-started their campaign with a scintillating 6-0 win over home team Kerala Blasters FC in the opening match of the Toyota Yaris LaLiga World Tournament at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here on Tuesday.
The visitors started the game on a high pressing note, attacking through the flanks and constantly questioning the Blasters backline through some creative moves by Riley McGree and Lachlan Wales in the middle. Scottish forward Michael O’Halloran kept Sandesh Jhingan busy through the first half, as the skipper struggled to keep pace against the City forwards.
The constant probing from Melbourne City FC forwards finally paid dividends as Dario Vidosic headed one into the far corner right at the half an hour mark with some clever work by Nathaniel Atkinson beat three Blasters men to chip it back to Luke Brattan, who lobbed in over the defence to find Vidosic. Three minutes later McGree doubled the lead for City. An unguarded Caceres came off with a brilliant one-two move playing it forward to McGree, who swivelled past Jhingan to score as the first half saw scoreline reading 2-0 in favour of the A-League side.
The second half story was no different. Five minutes into the second half, Bruno Fornaroli took a shot at the goal which was blocked by the Blasters’ defender, but Wales found himself in the right place at the right time to calmly put it past the goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh for Melbourne City’s third goal of the match. The home side had no answers to City’s constant attacks. In the 56th minute, 19-year-old McGree, who eventually won man-of-the-match award, made it 4-0 for the visitors.
By the 66th minute, Melbourne City FC fielded a brand new XI, but the goals didn’t stop coming. 18-year-old Ramy Najjarine registered his name on the score sheet in the 75th minute as hapless Blasters trailed 0-5. Relentless as they were, Melbourne City scored their sixth in the 79th minute via Fornaroli. It could’ve been 7-0 if the shot from Connor Metcalfe would not have met the far upright woodwork in the 82nd minute.
Melbourne City FC will now face LaLiga side Girona FC on July 27.
“ It is definitely disappointing to start the campaign on a losing note, like I said it wasn’t going to be easy against a quality opposition like Melbourne City Fc but I am happy the team did not show any signs of complacency till the last minute, it is very easy to loose hope once you are 6-0 down by the 79th minute, but fighting till the last minute and giving it your best is what characterizes the team. We shall definitely come back stronger against Girona on Sunday” said Kerala Blasters head coach, David James.
“ It feels good to start the season on a winning note, I think it was a comprehensive performance by the team and I would like to thank my coach for having the faith in me. I still need to work on a few areas and get better, This tournament shall be a good learning ground for me to hone my skills a little better, and be a much improved player before the season starts”. said the 19 year Riley McGree from Melbourne City FC.