Nabbout injury mars Melbourne City’s 4-1 win over Adelaide United

Melbourne City’s march to a first A-League Premiership continued with a 4-1 win over Adelaide United on Thursday night, but the result was overshadowed by a potentially serious injury to Socceroos’ attacker Andrew Nabbout.  

Playing a cross-field pass in the 25th minute, the 28-year-old immediately fell to the turf and didn’t move as play continued around him. 

Trainers quickly making their way to him, he was eventually carried from the field in serious pain and putting very little weight on his left leg – looking to be battling to maintain his composure as he disappeared down the tunnel. 

The City winger missed five games with a hamstring injury earlier in the season and was a late scratching from his side’s recent trip to Perth with a groin injury. 

His side losing just a single game in 2020-21 with him in the lineup, Nabbout’s form this season had seen him become heavily tipped to earn a recall to Graham Arnold’s side for four Kuwaiti-staged World Cup qualifiers in June – which first impressions suggest he will now struggle to make.

Little news on his status was available – coach Patrick Kisnorbo, himself on crutches, telling journalists he had yet to speak to medical staff – although a City official indicated that an adductor injury was suspected, with the attacker set to have scans on Friday to confirm and assess the extent of the damage.

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City’s loss, however, might also be the Socceroos; Nabbout’s injury arriving less than 24 hours after it was reported that Hull City left-back Callum Elder would be scratched from the Socceroos squad due to a knee ligament injury and moments after it was announced that Mitch Langerak was retiring from international football.  

The incident served to overshadow yet another comfortable City win in what is rapidly becoming a procession for the Premiers’ Plate: Kisnorbo’s side now only needing to win two further games to guarantee themselves their first-ever piece of A-League silverware. 

They will get their next opportunity to secure one of those wins on Sunday afternoon when they host Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.

Also next in action on Sunday – facing Brisbane Roar at Hindmarsh Stadium – Thursday’s defeat at AAMI Park means Adelaide remains part of an eight-team logjam of teams ranked second to eighth on the A-League table that is separated by just five points. 

Celebrating his 100th appearance in a City shirt, Scott Jamieson continued a rare purple patch of attacking form by opening the scoring in the eighth minute of play when a corner routine got him the ball in space outside the penalty area. 

Driving inside, the left-back drove in a shot that took a healthy deflection off Reds’ defender Jordan Elsey and flew past a wrong-footed James Delianov to make it 1-0. 

Taking his senior career tally to four, it’s the 32-year-old’s second goal in a month and, combined with his cross that forced Kai Trewin into conceding an own-goal against Brisbane Roar, makes him unironically one of City’s most effective offensive weapons across that stretch. 

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Seeking to press their opponents early on, Adelaide almost dragged a goal back in the 21st minute when a haphazard attempt to pass out by City keeper Tom Glover went straight into an advancing Craig Goodwin, with the resulting ricochet just looping over the bar. 

Delianov, starting in place of Joe Gauci after the latter suffered suffered a quad strain in warm-ups that will likely keep him our for two weeks, produced a split-second reaction save to deny a glancing header from Curtis Good in the 34th minute after the defender was picked out by Craig Noone after a short corner routine. 

The 21-year-old, however, was unable to repeat the feat after another short corner routine in the 45th minute: Galloway found with a pinpoint pass from Noone and firing an effort own and inside the far post. 

Playing a physical and determined game, Adelaide was able to peg one back six minutes into the second half when Aiden O’Neill bungled a sliding attempt to clear a Goodwin cross: forcing Glover into a somewhat spectacular save that fell to Ben Halloran to fire home. 

Indeed, determined not to be blown out of the water by their foes, the visitors gave just as good as they got against well-conditioned City, even if that did mean losing striker Tomi Juric at halftime due to coach Carl Vaert’s desire to mange his minutes heading into the final weeks of the season.

“We were playing the game on our terms and just small details cost us,” Veart said.

“We missed a pass or missed a shot or missed a cross that we could have taken more advantage of.

“And the quality in their side, they took advantage of their opportunities.”

City restored their two-goal buffer in the 71st minute when dynamic young winger Stefan Colakovski – showing what he can do in a 27 minute appearance off the bench – was brought down inside the penalty area by former City youth prospect Josh Cavallo and Jamie Maclaren blasted home the resulting penalty. 

Florin Berenguer came agonisingly close to making it 4-1 two minutes later when the Frenchman bent a wicked shot towards the top corner only for Delianov, who had a decent game despite conceding four goals, to stage a magnificent diving save in tipping it around the bar. 

Instead, it took another ten minutes for the fourth to be found when Marco Tilio, who had replaced Nabbout in the first half, broke inside from the left flank before, unselfishly, squaring the ball for Maclaren to fire home. 

The goals were Maclaren’s 24th and 25th of the 2020-21 campaign – bringing him to within three goals of Bobo’s single-season record of 27 with five games remaining on City’s season – and set his club’s all-time scoring record across all competitions. 

“What Jamie’s improved on and what I’ve seen over the years is his work ethic and his positioning to get into the box,” Kisnorbo said.

“Maybe last year it was a bit different.

“Even though he’s scored a lot of goals [last season], for me, it’s the goals and where he’s scoring is the difference and how he’s scoring.

“You don’t see him really score from the 18-yard box [with] a great shot. It’s the work ethic to get in the positions that he needs to get to.”

Ultimately, the 4-1 scoreline might have understated the battle that City was forced into but it mattered little; Kisnorbo’s Killbots adding another scalp as they marched towards the Premiers’ Plate.

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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