(Reuters) – Jamie Maclaren struck two minutes into extra-time to take Melbourne City into an A-League grand final meeting with Western United next week as the defending champions handed Adelaide United a 2-1 defeat in their playoff semi-final on Sunday.
Maclaren, the A-League’s leading scorer during the regular season, completed the come-from-behind win after Zach Clough had given Adelaide the lead in spectacular fashion before Marco Tilio levelled to take the game into extra-time.
City will play Western United at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium on May 28 following Saturday’s win by John Aloisi’s side over Melbourne Victory in their semi-final.
Patrick Kisnorbo’s team will be appearing in a third successive grand final as they aim to add the A-League championship to the Premiers Plate they won by topping the regular season standings.
The teams had shared a 0-0 draw in the first leg on Wednesday in Adelaide and it was the visitors who opened the scoring in Melbourne on Sunday.
Clough gave Adelaide the lead with a remarkable finish, flicking Javi Lopez’s pass into the air with his left before dropping the ball over the head of goalkeeper Tom Glover with an inch-perfect right-footed lob from just inside the penalty area.
City, though, levelled with 16 minutes remaining through Marco Tilio, the 20-year-old stooping to head in from close range after Andrew Nabbout’s cross from the right had evaded Maclaren’s attempts to nod the ball home.
Maclaren thought he had given City the lead four minutes from time only to see his effort ruled out for offside and the Australia international had to wait until the early exchanges of the first period of extra-time to put his side ahead.
Hesitancy in the Adelaide defence following Connor Metcalfe’s initial attempt at goal allowed Maclaren to pounce from close range as the ball pinballed between defenders and the Socceroos striker scored.
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Bradley Perrett)