Bruno Fornaroli playing pain-free and in hot form for Melbourne City
Bruno Fornaroli was first to Melbourne City training and last to leave during his rehabilitation on his broken ankle with the star striker rewarded with a rich vein of form heading into the A-League finals.
The 30-year-old scored City's sole goal in the 1-0 victory over the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Saturday night, which sealed a top-four final berth.
It was the Uruguayan's fourth goal in their past five games and he will be key to City's push for a maiden A-League title.
Regularly troubling the Mariners' stiff defence, he was unlucky not to collect at least one more.
Fornaroli broke his ankle in an FFA Cup round of 16 game last August and spent six months sidelined before his February return.
Coach Warren Joyce said he had been dedicated in his rehabilitation to ensure he lost none of his mesmerising touch.
"He worked tremendously hard the period he was out," Joyce said.
"He did a lot of hard work himself doing extra -- going to early morning sessions in the pool and there late again at night, sometimes three or four sessions a day.
"He's certainly got the bit between his teeth and wants to end the season on a high."
Fornaroli, who was the club's top goalscorer for the past two seasons, said he was finally playing without pain.
"I don't feel pain and this lets me play free, it gives me confidence that I can help the team," he said.
He felt City had the side to win the title, trumping runaway favourites Sydney FC.
"We have the chance so we have to take it," Fornaroli said.
"If we don't get there someone else will and I don't like that so we have to fight to try to get that spot and then think about the finals.
"The final is only one game but we have to prepare -- the luck don't come along so we have to bring the luck."
Melbourne City will take on last-placed Wellington away in their final round match.