PREMIERS! Melbourne City pull off final day heist after skipper’s moment of ‘absolute class’

Melbourne City have been crowned Liberty A-League Premiers for 2023-24 after a 2-1 victory over Perth Glory in the final match of the regular season saw them pip Sydney FC following an extraordinary final day.

Melbourne City have come from the clouds to be crowned Liberty A-League Premiers for 2023-24, emerging on top of the pile after a dramatic final day of the regular season.

It looked for all money like Sydney FC would claim a record fourth straight Premiership, becoming the first team – men’s or women’s – to achieve the feat in A-Leagues history, but Ante Juric’s team ultimately finished second after losing their final two matches.

After failing to beat 11th-placed Canberra United on Wednesday night, the Sky Blues were humbled 4-0 by Melbourne Victory on their home turf on Sunday.

That opened the door for City, who went into the late kick off in Perth knowing that a win would see them claim the silverware.

Dario Vidosic’s side made no mistake, claiming a 2-1 victory over the Glory thanks to a sumptuous long-range strike from Rhianna Pollicina and a first A-Leagues goal from 15-year-old Junior Matildas captain Shelby McMahon.

After coming off the bench, the teenager produced a sensational cut inside and finish to seal the Premiership for City in a moment that will live long in the memory.

Although, they were made to sweat until the very end, with Glory setting up a grandstand finish via substitute Tanika Lala’s 94th minute strike.

City ultimately held on and they can thank a superb goal-line stop from captain Rebekah Stott, who somehow kept out a header from Tash Rigby in the 56th minute that looked certain to find the net.

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“Wow, what a save that was on the goal line,” said Liberty A-League legend Cath Cannuli in commentary on Network 10.

“They say defences win championships… you can see here the goal line save… unbelievable, body on the line. They know exactly what it takes to win this game. 

“They aren’t going to leave anything to chance, they aren’t going to let Perth Glory back in this game very easily.

“… Millie Farrow has been on absolute fire, but Rebekah Stott has shown her experience and quality in defence and really kept Farrow out of the game today.”

Watch Stott’s moment of class below

Network 10 commentator Kate Allman added: “Unbelievable stuff. Last line of defence.

“Stott just showing her absolute class and experience… she is incredible. She’s the all-time leading women’s appearance maker for City. She’s already won four Championships, Two premierships here.”

“She could be going for her third premiership with City, which is quite unreal in this league for one single player.”

That win in the final match of the regular season saw City finish with 41 points, two clear of Sydney FC to clinch the Premiership and a smoother path to the Grand Final.

Both teams will enjoy a week off in the first week of the Liberty A-League Finals Series, but the Victorian outfit will now get the advantage of taking on the lowest ranked team who progress from the Elimination Finals.

After a fast start to the season, a mid-season slump from City means this Premiership triumph comes as something of a surprise. Between Rounds 14 and 18, they did not win a game as the Sky Blues leaped into the box seat.

Watch the goal that won Melbourne City the Liberty A-League Premiership below

However, ultimately City come out on top, despite losing Matildas star Holly McNamara to an ACL injury in Round 5 and breaking the Australian outbound transfer record twice as they lost two of their key players in goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx and defender Kaitlin Torpey, who has since been capped by Australia.

The experience of the likes of Hannah Wilkinson, Stott, Pollicina, Taylor Otto and Emina Ekic has proved key, while young guns like Daniela Galic, Naomi Chinnama, Laura Hughes and Leticia McKenna have boosted their stock with strong campaigns.

It means that, at age 36, Socceroo Vidosic tastes silverware in his first full season as an A-Leagues head coach after taking over from his father midway through last term – and he does so by denying Ante Juric and Sydney FC another chapter in their dynasty.

Of course, the Finals Series now awaits and it’s a brand new slate.

Can City ride their momentum all the way to the Grand Final and beyond? Make sure you’re watching live and free on 10 Play to find out.