Western United made it four wins from four in the Liberty A-League Women with an enthralling 3-1 victory over Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday evening.
Mark Torcaso’s side hit the front early on when Adriana Taranto found the net from long range, but City bounced back and equalised before half-time through Emina Ekic.
A superb second-half penalty save from Hillary Beall kept the scores level until Chloe Logarzo took over, scoring first with a stunning strike from distance and second with a late penalty to secure the win and move the team to the top of the league.
There was just one change to the starting XI from the last match against Adelaide United with Aimee Medwin coming in for Stacey Papadopoulos who continues to work her way back from concussion.
Kahli Johnson returned to the bench after recovering from a knock to her knee, while Tyla Jay Vlajnic lined up against her old side for the first time.
Western United came charging out of the blocks and hit the front two minutes into the match thanks to an excellent opening goal.
Taranto pinched the ball high up the pitch and upon getting it back from Hannah Keane, unleashed a fierce strike into the bottom left corner from outside the box.
That sparked City into life and the home side began to increase the pressure. Bryleeh Henry was unlucky not to find a prompt equaliser as her right-footed strike crashed into the post and flashed across the face of goal, ultimately evading the net.
From then on, the majority of the first half was played in United’s own half as City sought an equaliser, but Jessica McDonald did have a big chance when she pounced on a defensive error, only for a recovery challenge to clear the danger for City.
The pressure ultimately told for City as the equaliser came just before the half hour via a powerful strike from Ekic that beat Beall at the near post.
Beall had to be sharp in her box to prevent City from going into the break with a lead, setting up an intriguing second period.
The second half carried on with the same freneticism as the first half as United built an attack at one end and Maria Jose Rojas hit the crossbar at the other with a delicate chip.
United remained under pressure and City were awarded a penalty just before the hour mark after Vlajnic was deemed to have handled in the box.
Rhianna Pollicina stepped up from the spot but Hillary Beall was equal to it with a stunning stop, plunging low to her right and tipping the ball around the post.
Logarzo came off the bench at half-time and produced a piece of magic in the 64th minute to turn the tide back in United’s favour.
After picking up the ball in midfield, the No.6 played a clever reverse pass to Emma Robers and got it back just outside the box. As the ball sat up invitingly to hit, Logarzo put her laces through it and sent the ball flying into the roof of the net for her first goal in Green and Black.
Following her penalty save, Beall continued to play a vital role in between the sticks with a number of confident and decisive interventions that kept United ahead as City committed players forward and created a number of looks at goal via set pieces.
A free-kick on the right wing in stoppage time seemed to provide an opportunity for United to hold the ball in the corner, but McDonald had other ideas as she streamed into the box and forced a handball from a City defender.
Logarzo stood over the resultant penalty and dispatched it from 12 yards, netting her second of the game and United’s third to ice the result and move the Green and Black to the top of the Liberty A-League.