Jamie Maclaren has been denied a dramatic late winner as Melbourne City had to settle for a 0-0 draw in a sellout A-League Men Christmas derby with fierce rivals Melbourne Victory.
Two days after being snubbed for the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad, Maclaren thought he had given City the lead in the 89th minute when he spun and tapped home.
But the goal was disallowed as the City captain was ruled to have pulled back Victory veteran Leigh Broxham.
“I think it’s just nothing in it, to be honest,” Maclaren told Network 10.
“Broxy’s a strong guy, he’s not easy to get around and personally I don’t think it was a foul.
“The ref had a great game, he really did. He let things flow and I just wish he had have let that one go and maybe sent it upstairs to have more of a detailed look.”
Coach Aurelio Vidmar also lamented the early whistle from referee Alireza Faghani.
“We were having that discussion whether that should have just been allowed and then checked from the VAR,” he said.
“We thought there was probably worse tackles in the middle of the pitch which he let go.
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good referee. There’s a lot harsher tackles that were let go and play continued and that one looked pretty soft.”
Victory counterpart Tony Popovic said: “We thought there was a foul earlier, which we were told there was. I think there was an arm raised well before the action but the referee played on.
“So had he blown at that time, we wouldn’t have got to that.”
In the first minute of injury time, Victory goalkeeper Paul Izzo made a big diving save to tip away a goal-bound shot from City winger Leo Natel.
The result leaves the unbeaten Victory in second while City sit seventh.
Both clubs have made a point of moving on from last year’s disastrous pitch invasion and the first Christmas derby since the abandoned affair was played in front of a good-spirited crowd of 25,884.
Former Victory boss Kevin Muscat was on hand, as were former City coaches John van’t Schip and Patrick Kisnorbo.
City physically targeted recalled Socceroo Bruno Fornaroli, who went goalless for the first time in four games, failing to add to his tally of 12.
Zinedine Machach and Aziz Behich both received yellow cards just before half-time when they clashed after the Victory attacker brought down the City defender.
Both coaches brushed off the incident.
City goalkeeper Young made an extraordinary reflex save in the 48th minute, diving to bat away a fierce strike from Ryan Teague.
Both teams defended desperately from there to maintain clean sheets.
Victory face a week without Adama Traore, who was forced off in the 72nd minute after he was concussed when struck in the face by the ball.