Melbourne Derby analysis: Cahill lives up to the hype

If there was any doubt about Tim Cahill’s ability to perform following his big-money move to the Hyundai A-League with Melbourne City, the Caltex Socceroos legend has taken just one game to prove he’s worth every cent.

Cahill opened the scoring in Saturday night’s Melbourne derby, half-volleying past Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas from 40 yards.

Cahill’s goal kick-started an emphatic 4-1 win for City in the Melbourne derby, which makes them early favourites for the A-League title.

Cahill magic lifts City to thumping Melbourne Derby win

Cahill didn’t start brilliantly – he spent more time in the first 15 minutes clattering into opposition players than touching the ball – but in the 27th minute he announced himself in spectacular fashion.

A high ball skimmed off the head of Victory defender James Donachie and Cahill pounced, lashing it with his right boot over Thomas’ head and into the top corner of the net.

But while Cahill’s goal will undoubtedly grab the headlines, the real story was City’s dominance at Etihad Stadium.

For just about the first time in the history of the Melbourne derby, Victory looked utterly second rate.

City’s pressing left Kevin Muscat’s side with little time on the ball, while the three-time A-League champions were bemused by the movement of John van ‘t Schip’s men.

In defence, City lined up in a 4-1-2-3 formation, with Neil Kilkenny as a centre-back and Nicolas Colazo and Tim Cahill as the two advanced midfielders.

Once they won possession, however, Van ‘t Schip’s side morphed into a 3-2-5.

Kilkenny stepped into midfield alongside Luke Brattan, Cahill moved up front and Colazo pushed to the left wing, with Fernando Brandan drifting inside.

Victory’s defenders didn’t seem to know who to mark and, in the 31st minute, Colazo was left alone on the wing to whip in a perfect cross for fellow marquee Bruno Fornaroli to slide in at the back post and head home.

Bruno Fornaroli celebrates after scoring against Victory.

Just six minutes into the second half, Bruce Kamau – who was one of City’s best – left Alan Baro on the deck and surged into the box, cutting back for Luke Brattan to score the visitors’ third goal.

Victory gained a foothold in the contest after the introduction of Leigh Broxham and Nick Ansell, with Marco Rojas showing impressive skill to weave his way past three defenders and score in the 62nd minute.

But just two minutes later Brandan wrapped up three points for City, holding off Jason Geria and then firing his shot inside Thomas’ near post.

The win took City to six points from two games but – more significantly – has installed them as favourites for the A-League title alongside Sydney FC.