8-0! Melbourne City make history in merciless display that keeps finals hopes alive

Check out the highlights as Melbourne City looked to keep their finals hopes alive as they hosted Perth Glory at AAMI Park.

Melbourne City are just one point adrift of a top-six berth after the three-time reigning Isuzu UTE A-League premiers dismantled Perth Glory 8-0 in a record-breaking performance – the third time they have scored seven or more goals in a game this season.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ devastating last-gasp 2-1 derby defeat to Sydney FC on Saturday opened the door for City to take a giant step towards chasing down a finals spot and they did just that at AAMI Park, where Tolgay Arslan’s first career hat-trick fuelled Sunday’s historic display.

City humbled bottom side Glory in a merciless performance that broke the Isuzu UTE A-League Men record for the largest margin of victory.

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Arslan and Leo Natel both bagged early braces, while Kaelan Majekodunmi’s own goal incredibly made it five goals in just 15 minutes in a five-goal first half that equalled the record for most goals scored in the opening 45 minutes.

Jamie Maclaren found the scoresheet in the second half before Arslan completed his treble 17 minutes from the end and Steven Ugarkovic capped the rout late on as seventh-placed City moved within a point of the Wanderers, who occupy the sixth and final top-six position with two games to play.

City, who also crushed Brisbane Roar 8-1 in December and the Wanderers 7-0 last month, not only scored the most goals in this fixture against Perth but secured the largest margin of victory against the Glory.

For City captain and the Isuzu UTE A-League’s all-time leading goalscorer Maclaren – who is out of contract at the end of the season, he was back in the starting XI for the first time since March 1.

Aurelio Vidmar has preferred Max Caputo up front for City, though he dropped to the bench on Sunday.

“I’m the captain of the club mate, so you have to accept the decisions,” Maclaren told Network 10 post-match amid links with a move away from the team.

“This is a team sport and I had to help the boys, rally the boys through the good and bad results.

“Help young Maxy (Caputo) because at the end of the day, he is probably the guy who is going to be banging in the goals for this club next season.

“You just want to be there and be there to support them. When I get my chance, I try and take it. Like today, Viddy (Vidmar) put me back in and I thought it was justified.”

Vidmar was asked about Maclaren’s comments, which appeared to hint at a departure at the end of the season.

“Whatever is going to happen to Macca is between Macca and the club moving forward,” he told Network 10. “He has done a great job for us. Especially since he’s been out for the last four or five games, the leadership he has shown… he has done a really good job at that.

“As a leader you have to be pretty selfless and over the last four or five weeks, and he has shown that. Today was probably the game I had a gut feeling it was the right time for him to come in… and fortunate he was able to get a goal. Really happy for him”

City’s early dominance was rewarded as Natel’s thunderous effort put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute – his powerful run from the wing saw him stream into the box effortlessly after Maclaren hit the post four minutes earlier.

Another two goals followed within five minutes, with Arslan gifted his first of the day after Perth coughed up possession trying to play out from the back and it ended with the former Udinese star firing an unstoppable shot past Oli Sail.

It was an assist for Socceroos star Leckie, who made it seven goal involvements in his last seven A-Leagues matches against Perth (four goals, four assists) in his first start since February.

Then an own goal from Glory defender Majekodunmi made it 3-0 after 19 minutes as the Glory sank without a trace. It left goalkeeper Sail on his back and it complete shock.

It was 4-0 by the 26th minute. This time Arslan tucked a shot underneath Sail for his 12th A-Leagues goal of the season in a moment Network 10 commentator Simon Hill pointed the finger at Glory defenders: “They stood around like witches hats”.

After that goal, Perth head coach Alen Stajcic made a substitution to try to stem the flow but it didn’t help much as Natel bagged his second of the game three minutes later. The goal was initially judged offside but after a lengthy VAR review, it was deemed that Maclaren was not in an offside position when impeding Sail’s view.

Maclaren got in on the action on the hour mark following a swift counter-attacking move that completely carved up Perth. It was his first goal since the 7-0 humbling of Western Sydney.

City were not down there, however. The home side played through Perth’s defence with ease once more and the quick footwork of Arslan saw him find the back of the net for a third time.

It could have been 8-0 during the final 10 minutes but Maclaren’s effort hit the upright, though Ugarkovic did get City’s eighth goal during the closing stages.