SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two goals in two second-half minutes set Melbourne City on their way to their second consecutive Australian championship final with a 2-0 win over Macarthur FC in the A-League playoff semi-final on Sunday.
Young guns Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski set up goals for each other in the 54th and 55th minutes at Kogarah's Jubilee Oval to give City an opportunity to avenge last year's final loss with a rematch against champions Sydney FC next weekend.
"We had control of the game in the first half and we said at half time we just wanted to put more pressure on them and that's how we scored the two goals," said Colakovski.
Deprived of home advantage for the semi-final by a COVID-19 lockdown in their home town, City had dominated possession in the first half without creating any real goalscoring chances.
Winger Tilio changed that when he darted down the left nine minutes into the second half and whipped the ball back across the six-yard area to allow Colakovski a simple tap in to open the scoring.
Colakovski wasted no time in repaying the favour, latching onto a Nathaniel Atkinson high ball and playing Tilio in for a cool finish from close to the penalty spot.
The double strike knocked the wind out of Macarthur, the expansion club from southwest Sydney who were looking to reach the final in their maiden A-League campaign.
Their best chance to break the deadlock had come in the 32nd minute when Charles M'Mombwa rounded the City goalkeeper and fired the ball towards the net only for Portuguese defender Nuno Reis to intercept it with a desperate dive.
Former Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Derbyshire had a sniff of another chance two minutes later and a further minute on fullback Ivan Franjic saw his swerving left-foot effort cannon off the crossbar.
The defeat brought an end to the illustrious career of Macarthur skipper Mark Milligan, who went to four World Cup tournaments with Australia.
City topped the regular season standings to win the Premiers' Plate, guaranteeing them home advantage throughout the playoffs, COVID-19 travel restrictions permitting.
Sydney FC beat Adelaide United 2-1 in the first semi-final on Saturday.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Christopher Cushing)