A dominant second half performance from Melbourne City has got them past Adelaide United 1-0 in their hard-fought A-League Women clash at Coopers Stadium.
Rhianna Pollicina scored the only goal of the game on 66 minutes, with City consolidating second place in the ladder while the Reds remain fourth.
City coach Rado Vidosic admitted it was a difficult contest with little to split the two sides.
“I think we were a little bit lucky in the end, it was a little bit of magic from our number 10,” he said.
“That was the difference. Other than that, I think it was a very tough game.”
Adelaide shaded possession and territory early and carved out a chance just after the quarter hour.
Emily Condon rose highest and headed just wide from a driven Fiona Worts corner.
City worked their way into the contest and attacked the Reds in wide areas, producing two good opportunities just before halftime.
Pollicina’s free kick whizzed through the box and evaded everyone, needing just a touch to direct it on goal, while Tyla Jay Vlajnic had a shot saved by Red keeper Annalee Grove a minute later.
The best chance of the half went to United in stoppage time with Paige Hayward racing onto a through ball and whipping in a cross from the left.
Worts beat her opponent to the ball and her left-footed volley appeared to be heading into the bottom corner before veteran shot stopper Melissa Barbieri stunningly tipped the shot around the post.
City were the better side right from the restart and dominated the Reds, before their reward arrived.
Rebekah Stott chipped the ball through Adelaide’s defence for Pollicina to run onto and dance around two defenders before firing low past the on-rushing Grove.
Adelaide had a chance to equalise in the 76th minute when Condon picked up the loose ball, after City failed to clear, and was bearing down on goal with just Barbieri to beat, but blasted her shot straight into the arms of the City custodian.
United assistant coach Joe Mullen, who took the reins in the absence of coach Adrian Stenta who was sidelined due to COVID-19, conceded City were the better side.
“I thought it was a game of two halves,” he said.
“I thought we looked good in the first half… I think the result was probably a fair one in the end.”