Western United stun Melbourne City 2-0 to win first men’s A-League title | A-League Men

Western United won their first men’s A-League championship in just their third season, defeating Melbourne City 2–0 in the grand final to complete manager John Aloisi’s redemption arc.

United seized the lead thanks to City defender Nuno Reis’ own goal in the second minute, the fastest goal in an ALM decider, and Aleksandar Prijovic doubled his lead after 30 minutes in front of 22,495 fans at the AAMI Park.

The title, which United won from third place, marks Aloisi’s first silver medal as manager and prevented City from becoming the first team to complete back-to-back premiership and championship doubles.

United placed their bets on Aloisi, who had not trained since 2018 after a rocky finish at the Brisbane Roar and a brutal first job at Melbourne Heart.

It paid off as they became only the second team after Melbourne Victory in 2017-18 to win from outside the top two, despite missing Alessandro Diamanti, Rene Khrin and Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

Serbian striker Prijovic won the Joe Marston medal as United’s focal point, while central defenders Leo Lacroix and Tomoki Imai covered for Jamie Maclaren. Connor Pain was also excellent, while Josh Risdon overcame an early injury.

Before the game, United’s active fans unfurled a “typhoon from the west has arrived” and it proved prophetic within two minutes. Former City player Ben Garuccio took a corner at the near post and Prijovic soared higher only for the ball to bounce off Reis’s head for an own goal.

United held City to just one shot in the first half and doubled their lead at the half-hour mark. Pain’s shot was blocked by Reis and the ball bounced off Pain’s face, took a touch from Connor Metcalfe and slid into the path of Prijovic, who coolly finished.

The goal was originally disallowed, but after a quick VAR review with Kris Griffiths-Jones, referee Chris Beath awarded it.

There was controversy in the 44th minute when City’s Carl Jenkinson confronted Pain and appeared to head the winger. Jenkinson was not penalized but was hooked by Scott Galloway at the break.

City riddled United’s goal after the break. Curtis Good headed the crossbar in the 48th minute, Metcalfe headed over in the 54th while Mathew Leckie came close in the 61st.

In the 66th, Andrew Nabbout fired a ferocious shot towards goal, but Jamie Young somehow pulled off an incredible instinctive save. Fifteen minutes later, Young made a marvelous fingertip save to fire Galloway’s long-range shot over the crossbar to secure United’s victory.

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