Soccer-Western Utd dethrone Melbourne City to take Australian title


MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Western United stunned crosstown rivals Melbourne City with a deserved 2-0 victory in the A-League playoff Grand Final on Saturday to become champions of Australia in only their third season of existence.

The expansion team scored twice in the first half an hour through a Nuno Reis own goal and a Aleksandar Prijovic strike before holding on as City came out back at them in the second half at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

United, still without a home ground or many fans, were missing injured former Italy midfielder Alessandro Diamanti throughout the playoffs but once again Prijovic stepped up to lead them to victory.

"It was a target of mine when I came here, I'm happy that I was able to deliver in the right moment," said the former Serbia striker, who was named man of the match.

"As you could see, the final was very clear, in our favour. We were very sure we were going to win."

It was the pressure of Prijovic's presence in the box that resulted in Portuguese centre half Reis heading the ball into his own net in the second minute.

The scorer of two goals as United beat four-times champions Melbourne Victory in the semi-finals, Prijovic hit the mark for the 13th time this season in the 30th minute.

Connor Pain's shot rebounded off a defender and back to him with the ricochet carrying the ball forward to Prijovic, who lashed it past City goalkeeper Tom Glover.

The referee initially ruled that Prijovic had been offside but reversed his decision after consulting VAR, leaving the league's second best defence with a two goal advantage to protect.

City, who were heavy favourites going into the match as reigning champions and having topped the league in the regular season to win the Premiers Plate, were stung into a response after the break.

Central defender Curtis Good hit the crossbar with a header from a 47th minute free kick and just after the hour mark Socceroos forward Mathew Leckie touched the ball past United goalkeeper Jamie Young but could not get his shot off.

Frenchman Leo Lacroix and his Japanese partner Tomoki Imai have been rocks at the heart of the United defence all season, however, and they and their team mates hussled and harried to keep City's much vaunted attack out.

"It's such a good feeling," said coach John Aloisi, finally an A-League champion with his third club.

"We know we haven't got a home stadium, we know we are still growing our support but ... we said from day one of pre-season that we weren't going to make any excuses. The resilience the players have shown all year paid off tonight."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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