Will Fornaroli’s exploits translate into silverware for City?

If Melbourne City are to claim their maiden piece of Hyundai A-League silverware this season, they will undoubtedly do so thanks to striker Bruno Fornaroli.

The Uruguayan has been a revelation in his first campaign in Australia, with his first A-League hat-trick against Sydney FC taking him to 20 goals this term, breaking the competition’s record for most goals by a player in a season before finals.

Besart Berisha had previously held the record for his 19 goals in 2010-11 for Brisbane Roar.

City are also likely to set a record in 2015-16, as they have now scored 54 goals this term, four adrift of the 2010-11 Roar team with five matches remaining before finals.

But unlike that Brisbane team that won the championship, City may struggle to end the season with a trophy.

City’s defensive issues have been widely reported but it is also their mental fragility that remains a problem.

After two defensive lapses saw City lose 2-1 at Wellington Phoenix last week, John van ‘t Schip’s team again started poorly in a game they were expected to win on Saturday night before eventually prevailing 3-0.

MATCH REPORT: Fornaroli hat-trick sees City sink Sky Blues

HIGHLIGHTS: Melbourne City v Sydney FC

Sydney had the better of the contest in the first half.

It must have been infuriating for City fans to watch their team go into their shells at home when up against such an undermanned team as the Sky Blues.

Barring their shock 2-1 win over Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday, Sydney have been poor recently and entered this game on a six-game winless run in the A-League, while they had four players suspended and captain Alex Brosque out injured.

But the visitors started the match strongly, controlling possession in their 3-5-2 formation, while City seemed lost as they played 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield.

In the end, it was a typically tenacious and brilliant moment from Fornaroli that saw City edge ahead.

The home side cleared a free-kick from Sydney in the 41st minute and Fornaroli found himself isolated against Aaron Calver.

Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli became the first player to score 20 Hyundai A-League goals in a season on Saturday night.

Despite giving away quite a few centimetres to the centre-back, Fornaroli never gave up on the bouncing ball and eventually won possession, before releasing Aaron Mooy down the right.

It was the type of grit and determination that had generally been lacking from hosts.

A return cross from the Socceroos midfielder deflected into Fornaroli’s path and the 28-year-old acrobatically turned the ball home.

“He’s [Fornaroli] the first one to roll up his sleeves, to go out and also do the dirty work, and, yeah, he scores goals,” Van ‘t Schip said afterwards.

Fornaroli’s next two goals gave fans another glimpse of how clinical he is in the penalty area.

In the 71st minute, Harry Novillo slid the ball into Fornaroli’s path and the latter expertly controlled the pass and turned in one motion before finishing with his second touch, while his third came with seven minutes remaining.

Michael Zullo’s cross from the left skidded past Matt Jurman and Fornaroli converted calmly at the back post.

Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli celebrates one of his three goals against Sydney FC.

Saturday’s win took Van ‘t Schip’s men to 35 points in fourth in the A-League table, with leaders Adelaide United four points ahead after their 4-0 triumph away to Wellington Phoenix.

The fact that Fornaroli is being paid under City’s salary cap only underlines the poor record of some A-League marquee players this season.

“He’s outstanding,” Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said.

“I don’t know how Melbourne City fit him in the cap but you’ve got to congratulate them because he’s top shelf.

“For a little man, he moves well, he reads the game well, he’s always in the right place at the right time and he’s a great finisher.”

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Federico Piovaccari has essentially become irrelevant, having not played since January 16, while Sydney’s Filip Holosko again failed to make an impact against City, missing a raft of chances.

City had their own disappointing marquee – the now-departed Robert Koren – in 2015-16, but if Fornaroli is an example of what to expect from the club’s recruiting staff from now on, the future looks bright.