Lions FC 6 (Solorzano 7′, 34′; Fiechtner 39′; Mikkola 55′, 90′; Duckworth 84′)
Eastern Suburbs 0
Doubles to Jean Carlos Solorzano and Max Mikkola helped Lions FC to a convincing 6-0 win over Eastern Suburbs on Saturday evening at Lions Stadium with the Tigers reduced to ten men just before halftime.
Solorzano opened the scoring on seven minutes with a fine header after latching onto Mikkola’s precise cross from the edge of the box following good link-up play with Alex Fiechtner.
The Costa Rican got his and Lions second just after the half-hour mark when again provided by Mikkola. The Lions live wire worked himself out of a tight space in the corner before playing in a slightly deflected cross that Solorzano controlled, turned on and then drilled low into the bottom left corner of former Lions keeper Declan Murphy’s goal.
A few moments later the home side could have been three to the good. Shaun Carlos played into a ton of space on the edge of the box only to see his effort flash narrowly wide of the goal.
But Lions weren’t to be denied and on 39 minutes they did find a third. Zach Maltby holding up the ball well before finding Carlos who’s deft pass to Fiechtner saw the Lions front man make a yard for himself and drill the ball past Murphy at the Easts keeper’s near post.
The first half though would end in dramatic fashion when a dangerous challenge on Solorzano saw Jayden Balarezo shown a straight red card to leave his side battling the second half a player down.
The hosts put the game beyond Easts ten minutes into the second half. Carlos from defence finding Maltby who produced a superb cross-field pass to pick out Mikkola. Mikkola danced and weaved his way towards the goal before unleashing an unstoppable low drive past Murphy.
Fiechtner went close moments later but couldn’t quite find the final touch to back up his initial effort that was parried away by Murphy only as far as Mikkola who laid the ball off to Maltby to fire the ball across the face of goal.
Easts keeper Murphy then made repeated superb saves to keep his old side from running rampant.
First, he denied Mikkola just after the hour mark, tipping his low shot round the post before making a repeat save to prevent Joe Duckworth from scoring a couple of minutes later.
Soon after, Murphy was again called upon, tipping the ball over his crossbar from Fletcher McDonald’s long-range effort and on 74 minutes he produced the save of the game, tipping over Mikkola’s goal-bound strike after Solorzano had teed him up.
Solorzano should have grabbed his hat trick a minute later when the resulting corner from Mikkola’s effort was eventually played to the back post but the former Roar striker couldn’t quite get the final touch on the ball, instead of seeing it go out for a goal kick.
With just over five minutes left on the clock, Murphy was eventually beaten with Duckworth firing past the Scotsman from just outside the six-yard box after latching onto Andy Thompson’s cross from the right side.
Mikkola put the icing on the cake on 90 minutes with a powerful strike from 25 yards out that sailed past Murphy to cap off a man of the match performance from him.
Easts had few chances of their own, their best perhaps coming a little after Lions had taken the lead but it’s fair to say Lions keeper Luke Borean didn’t have a save to make for the entire evening.
With Matija Simic and Jordan Farina suspended, it gave a couple of players the opportunity to shine and shine they did with Solorzano looking calm and collected every time he got the ball.
Lions dominated for long periods but it was without doubt Mikkola who stole the headlines. His work rate across the park was phenomenal and he was virtually involved in all of Lions goals.
The win sees Lions move up to 6th on the NPL ladder following other results from today.
Next up is a trip to Sunshine Coast Wanderers for what could prove a decisive encounter in the race for the top four. But with the form Lions are in at present, not many sides will be keen to face them.
Team Line ups:
Borean (gk), Thompson, Jarrard, Fiechtner, Duckworth, Solorzano, Docherty, Beakhurst, Carlos, Mikkola, Maltby.
Subs: Murphy (rgk), McGrath, Shepherd, Minett, McDonald, Sauverain.
Murphy (gk), Bird, Barnett, Balarezo, Son, Harris, Pin, Simmons, Cant, Klaassen, Jomanday.
Subs: Griffin (rgk), Debele, Crawford, Davies, Velardo.