City exact Melbourne Derby revenge as Withers decides five-goal epic

Melbourne City let a two-goal advantage slip but turned out emphatic derby winners after Harriet Withers’ late winner gave the reigning Premiers a 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory in Sunday afternoon’s frenzied affair at Epping Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Alex Chidiac scored her first W-League goal since her return to Australia from Atletico Madrid before Claudia Bunge’s own goal gave City a two-nil buffer, as Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah kept Victory frustrated with a string of excellent saves.

City had never before relinquished a two-goal advantage in the Westfield W-League but surrendered their advantage in the matter of six second half minutes after Mindy Barbieri’s wonderful free-kick was followed by Catherine Zimmerman’s effort. 

But City rallied and struck late through Withers to gain their first win of the Westfield W-League season and exact revenge on their rivals, who defeated City 6-0 at CB Smith Reserve last Sunday.

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Key moments

Both sides traded early blows at Epping Stadium before Chinatsu Kira helped City take the lead. The Japanese import darted toward the Victory box and found a fantastic late run from Chidiac, who beat Gabriela Garton at the near post on 22 minutes.

Chidiac ambitiously attempted to beat Garton off her line from distance, and then City made it two. Leah Davidson won the ball back high up the pitch and sent Kira charging into her box, with her cutback inadvertently sliced past Garton and into the Victory net.

Victory rallied but could not find a way past Matildas goalkeeper Micah. First, Micah made a huge save down to her left to prevent Hannah Beard’s curled finish from nestling in the side netting.

She then came out bravely to block Melina Ayres after the ball broke the way of the Victory forward, and managed to tip Mindy Barbieri’s free-kick over the bar. 

Withers missed a golden opportunity to make it three when Tyla-Jay Vlajnic picked her out at the back post, but the finish was wayward. 

City had never surrendered a two-goal lead in their history but found themselves all-square six minutes after the restart. 

The first came when Barbieri thundered an unstoppable free-kick past Micah after Zimmerman won a foul on the edge of the area.

Three minutes later, Victory restored parity when Zimmerman turned and lashed a fantastic volley into the net from outside the box.

Victory were in the ascendancy and goalscorers Barbieri and Zimmerman kept the City defence on their toes, while at the other end Kira came within inches of getting a foot on Withers’ delivery across the face of goal

Hopkins’ side created another huge chance and were denied by the post – with Ayres heading Barbieri’s cross onto the woodwork. 

But City had the last laugh and final say in the enthralling contest when Withers applied a fine finish past Garton.

SQUAD TRACKER: All of the players signed for Westfield W-League Season 2020/21

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