Jamie Maclaren was back in his familiar goalscoring groove in Melbourne’s latest Asian Champions League triumph, but the striking ace was only concerned about saluting the character of his team as they emerged from another tough awayday with a fine win in Thailand.
On the backfoot for much of the match with Thai FA Cup champions Buriram United in sweltering conditions on Wednesday, City still managed to prevail 2-0 thanks to the marksmanship of the A-League’s all-time leading scorer Maclaren and teenage winger Alessandro Lopane.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for City, who had lost their opening A-League Men match of the season at home to Western United at the weekend with Maclaren having had a goal disallowed on a frustrating afternoon.
But the 30-year-old skipper scored the 41st minute goal on Wednesday with a fine volleyed finish that effectively sealed his team’s win on a humid Thailand evening after 19-year-old Lopane had headed them into an early lead.
“As a striker you want to score every game, but this season we’ve had a number of games where I’ve scored some goals, and it’s more important to talk about the group,” said Socceroo Maclaren, who netted his fourth of the season after three Australia Cup goals.
“I don’t really want to talk too much about the goals, the important thing was the character we showed.
“That’s something that you can judge us on and to come away from home in the way we’ve done, not only here but also in China to get six points away from home in difficult conditions, that’s makes me nothing short of proud of my teammates.”
City had also come away with a 2-1 victory at Chinese Super League side Zhejiang last month, another win that’s now put them in a strong position to make the knockout stages as they lead their qualifying group by three points, with two matches still to come back in Melbourne.
No Australian side has ever won the Asian Champions League since the sole triumph by Western Sydney Wanderers back in 2014 but City are hopeful of a strong campaign under Rado Vidosic, who was left impressed by his side’s adaptability.
“It was a very hard game, very hot conditions,” said the Croatian. “Last week in Melbourne, it was only 15, 16 degrees so to come in, play 90 minutes against a team that is used to play these conditions as always going to be a test for us.
“I thought we controlled the ball really well and that helped us to last the game well, so I’m very proud of the boys at the end of the day.”
City’s next test is to open their A-League Men account at Adelaide on Saturday although Vidosic already has his eyes on the return against Buriram in two weeks time.