A-League Men champions Melbourne City beat gallant South Melbourne to seal a 3-0 victory and a ticket to the round of 16 of the FFA Cup.
A crowd of 4,291 spectators packed into Lakeside Stadium for the first round of the 32nd Round of the former NSL Power’s FFA Cup since 2017.
But Connor Metcalfe’s 23rd-minute goal and Scott Galloway’s brace in the second half secured City’s first competitive game since June’s grand final triumph ended in victory.
City were in command from the start against the NPL club and sprinkled South’s goal unrewarded for the first 20 minutes, with the culmination of a long-range effort from skipper Scott Jamieson coming off target. .
The South resolutely defended itself, but its resistance was only able to hold out for a while.
In the 23rd minute, Galloway eluded Nathaniel Atkinson, who brought the ball back to Metcalfe to score a well-worked first goal.
City maintained their dominance throughout the first half, controlling most of the possession, but failed to capitalize on the scoreboard.
South Melbourne, which had not played a competitive game since its NPL season was prematurely interrupted by Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown in July, was keen off the break and was just inches from the equalizer at the 53rd minute.
Marcus Schroen’s brilliant curling free-kick lifted the crowd and forced Olyroos goaltender Tom Glover to make a superb fingertip save to stop the ball tucked away in the skylight.
Fear rocked City in the action and in the 66th minute, Aiden O’Neill landed a smart through pass past the south defense for Galloway, who crushed City second from a tight angle.
Seven minutes later, Florin Berenguer chose a booming Atkinson, who cut the ball for Galloway to score his second and seal the victory.
City’s starting lineup included nine of the 11 players who started June’s big final victory.
Andrew Nabbout, who left the Socceroos bench Thursday night before being pulled from Graham Arnold’s squad on Friday afternoon, was initially named a replacement but retired shortly before the game.