Mulaudzi stars as Canberra see off City
Rhoda Mulaudzi scored one and set another up on her Westfield W-League debut as Canberra United beat three-time reigning champions Melbourne City 2-0.
The South African international showed the quality in front of goal missing from City’s display, lofting the ball over Lydia Williams just before the hour mark and then setting up Westfield Matildas young star Ellie Carpenter with six minutes remaining.
It proved the perfect remedy for Canberra after missing out on last season’s finals to City, who went on to claim their third successive Grand Final triumph after beating them to a fourth-place regular season finish.
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Canberra handed debuts to eight players, including Scotland captain Rachel Corsie and South African duo Refiloe Jane and Mulaudzi, while City were missing several key players as they began their pursuit of an unprecedented fourth successive triumph.
The hosts started the brighter and applied plenty of pressure from set-pieces, including Natasha Prior hitting the target with a close-range header but failing to beat Williams.
The biggest opportunity of the half fell to Rhali Dobson, who found the woodwork from a far-post header with the goal gaping.
Only a brilliant stop from Williams denied Mulaudzi, before another guilt-edged chance was passed up by City as Spencer headed over from point-blank range after Sham Khamis failed to collect an in-swinging corner.
Corsie had the first chance of the second half but failed to hit the target with her header under pressure.
Canberra broke the deadlock in the 56th minute when Jane produced a sublime pass to find compatriot Mulaudzi, who was able to loft the ball over an on-rushing Williams and find the empty net.
City struggled to carve out any clear-cut opportunities as they looked to strike back and Williams needed to make another fine save to deny Jane with 15 minutes remaining.
The champions thought they had pulled level in the 77th minute when Nielsen's cross was chested in from close range, but the offside flag was correctly raised to the relief of the hosts, while Mulaudzi also had a goal chalked off for offside just two minutes later.
The hosts wrapped up the points in the 84th minute when Carpenter surged into City’s half, played a one-two with Mulaudzi and showed great composure to slot home.