Melbourne City have stormed past Macarthur FC 3-0 to win their fourth game on the bounce and highlight their A-League title credentials.
Jamie Maclaren scored a three-minute brace with Craig Noone adding the third goal as City dismantled the Bulls to leapfrog the A-League newcomers into second place.
City effectively wrapped up three points in a 13-minute scoring blitz, with Socceroo Andrew Nabbout having a hand in all three goals at AAMI Park.
As electric as the home side were, Macarthur were left to rue multiple costly turnovers and defensive lapses in concentration.
In the 23rd minute, Nabbout slid a brilliant ball through to Nathaniel Atkinson – after Macarthur failed to track the full-back’s run – who dinked a cross to the back post for Maclaren to head home.
Two minutes later, City skipper Jamieson sliced a delightful ball through to Nabbout, who worked a pass to a criminally-unmarked Maclaren.
The Socceroo’s first shot was cleared off the line by Antony Golec but Maclaren reacted quickest to bury the rebound – his 10th goal in as many matches this season.
Maclaren almost snared his hat-trick in the 34th minute.
Nabbout and Atkinson combined with aplomb once more and Maclaren just poked a shot wide of the far post.
But a minute later, Nabbout released Noone, who cut inside Mark Milligan, sending the Bulls skipper sprawling, then casually finished on his right foot.
While City eased off in the second half, Macarthur were unable to mount a response – with Denis Genreau’s 79th-minute close-range miss arguably their best chance – and suffered their second-consecutive loss.
The Bulls could drop to as low as seventh by the end of the weekend, with Western Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC all within two points and yet to play.
Meanwhile City are six points behind leaders Central Coast, who they will host at AAMI Park on March 22.