Controversy reigns as ref denies Maclaren perfect response to Socceroos snub in feisty Melbourne derby
Jamie Maclaren has been denied a dramatic late winner as Melbourne City had to settle for a 0-0 draw in a sellout A-League Men Christmas derby with fierce rivals Melbourne Victory.
Two days after being snubbed for the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad, Maclaren thought he had given City the lead in the 89th minute when he toepoked home.
But the goal was disallowed as the City captain was ruled to have pulled back Victory veteran Leigh Broxham.
Then, Victory goalkeeper Paul Izzo made a big diving save to tip away a goal-bound shot from City winger Leo Natel.
The result leaves the Victory in second while City sit seventh.
Both clubs have made a point of moving on from last year’s disastrous pitch invasion and the first Christmas derby since the abandoned affair was played in front of a good-spirited crowd of 25,884.
Former Victory boss Kevin Muscat was on hand, as were former City coaches John van’t Schip and Patrick Kisnorbo.
City physically targeted recalled Socceroo Bruno Fornaroli, who went goalless for the first time in four games, failing to add to his tally of 12.
Aziz Behich had promised not to hold back against his Asian Cup teammate – and pushed over Fornaroli in the third minute to spark early fireworks.
A minute later, City star Tolgay Arslan fired wide.
Zinedine Machach and Behich both received yellow cards when they clashed after the Victory attacker brought down the City defender.
The pair clashed and Machach rubbed Behich’s head, with the Socceroo grabbing at his face.
City goalkeeper Young made an extraordinary reflex save in the 48th minute, diving to bat away a fierce strike from Ryan Teague.
Roderick Miranda headed just wide from the subsequent corner.
In the 54th, Young brilliantly blocked Fornaroli and Daniel Arzani skewed a follow-up well off target.
City unsuccessfully appealed for a handball in the 63rd minute and former skipper and current assistant coach Scott Jamieson received a yellow card in the aftermath.
Traore was replaced by Franco Lino in the 72nd after he was hit in the head by a fierce cross from Marin Jakolis.
A minute later, Jason Geria scrambled brilliantly to thwart Leo Natel’s run into the box.
City’s Steven Ugarkovic fizzed a long-range strike over the bar in the 83rd minute, then Young pawed away Connor Chapman’s looping header before the game descended into late drama.