LNTUP

A-League: Melbourne City FC 1-0 Wellington Phoenix

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A thunderous free kick from loanee striker Ross McCormack has ensured Melbourne City’s 100 percent start to the A-League season continued at the expense of Wellington Phoenix.

City are top of the league and three from three under new coach Warren Joyce after the 1-0 triumph on Saturday.

The grey Melbourne day proved the perfect environment for the Scot to show his talent.

McCormack, on loan from English Championship side Aston Villa while captain Bruno Fornaroli recuperates from an ankle injury, elevated an otherwise dreary contest.

When Bruce Kamau was brought down by young midfielder Matthew Ridenton in the 68th minute, the 31-year-old was quick to stake a claim for the resulting free kick.

He unleashed a piledriver of a free kick that never lifted more than a metre off the ground, screaming into the net off the back post.

It was a goal worthy of winning any game, and the match’s only moment of real quality.

Until McCormack’s intervention, Wellington looked on for a deserved point.

Darike Kalezic’s side were organised and lively, with Dario Vidosic and Michael McGlinchey busy in attacking midfield roles.

The Phoenix enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but – like City – failed to fashion any clear-cut chances.

In the 84th minute, a counterattack almost bore fruit for Wellington.

Roy Krishna’s shot was deflected onto the post by impressive City defender Bart Schenkeveld, with Andrija Kaludjerovic’s follow-up saved by Eugene Galekovic.

So while it wasn’t convincing — for the third week in a row — City again claimed three points to keep them on top of the pack.

“Let’s not beat around the bush. We can do better than that,” Joyce said. “I thought we were poor tonight in possession, but we’ve shown a lot of grit and determination and kept another clean sheet.”

City head to Adelaide United for their first interstate match of the season next week before a potentially table-topping clash with Sydney FC in round five.

Wellington will host Brisbane Roar next Saturday as they search for a first win this season, with Kalezic hopeful of a similar performance but a different result.

“It’s clear we dominated the game,” he said after Wellington tallied a season-high total of 589 passes, with 18 shots — but just two on target.

“We created enough chances to make a goal and enough chances to win a game.”