Arzani magic sinks Jets
A MASTERCLASS from World Cup hopeful Daniel Arzani and two goals from Dario Vidosic have sparked Melbourne City to a 3-0 A-League win over Newcastle.
The second-placed Jets had no answer at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday, slumping to their second-straight heavy loss and their first scoreless performance of the season.
It was 19-year-old livewire Arzani who boosted his case for a Socceroos squad berth and helped City up to third on the ladder.
While Bruno Fornaroli and mid-season recruit Vidosic got onto the scoresheet, Arzani was the chief creator, regularly beating more experienced opponents and crossing superbly in the first half.
He outshone fellow Russia 2018 prospect Dimi Petratos, who was unable to boost the Jets after their 5-2 loss to Adelaide last week as he returned to the side from his Socceroos debut in a friendly against Norway.
Newcastle cannot be unseated from second spot behind Premiers' Plate winners Sydney FC with two rounds remaining, but their form is worrying ahead of a first finals appearance since 2010.
Riley McGree and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who has moved to equal-third in A-League appearances (261), squandered chances for the Jets in the early minutes before City dominated the first half.
Arzani terrorised 18-game defender Ivan Vujica but the deadlock remained unbroken deep into the first half as Fornaroli couldn't put away a shot from his through ball.
Arzani could have won a penalty when it appeared he was held back by Vujica and Fornaroli later hit the bar with a spectacular volley.
But from the ensuing corner, Fornaroli smashed the net from close range when the ball fell to him at the back post.
Vidosic netted his first when he rose above the much smaller Vujica to head home from a corner in the 53rd minute The Jets were put out of their misery when Vidosic clinically put a free kick past Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan with 13 minutes remaining.
City are unbeaten in their past three outings and look set to take momentum into the finals, with their last regular-season games against bottom sides Central Coast and Wellington.
"Back-to-back wins against good sides are good for the confidence but even the couple of matches we lost, the performances were good," coach Warren Joyce said.
"Tonight, I thought we started the game really well and should have been goals up before we scored.
"We have to be better at that and when we create those chances we have to take them and put sides to bed early."
The Jets will enter the finals seeded second but their standing as the Sky Blues' chief contender is becoming increasingly shaky.
"Hopefully they've learned their lesson because ... if this was a finals game, they're going to really struggle and they're going to be knocked out," coach Ernie Merrick said.