Melbourne Victory’s unbeaten streak has continued after a stirring 2-1 win over a 10-man Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Friday
Melbourne Victory’s unbeaten streak has continued after a stirring 2-1 win over a 10-man Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Friday.
After a goalless first half the Mariners broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half courtesy of an Adrian Leijer own goal.
But a red card to Central Coast just minutes later swayed the momentum back in Victory’s favour and two late goals to substitute Diogo Ferreira and the tireless Grant Brebner earned a priceless three points and a fourth straight win for Ernie Merrick’s men.
Victory, fifth on the ladder going into the game and unbeaten in their previous six, were immediately put under pressure in the opening minutes of the game.
The confident Mariners, third on the table going into game, created numerous early chances with Victory shot-stopper Michael Petkovic at his best to keep out two Patricio Perez efforts from distance and a Patrick Zwaanswijk header.
Victory had their best early chance courtesy of a Carlos Hernandez snap from the edge of the box brilliantly pushed wide by Mariners keeper Matt Ryan.
And Robbie Kruse should’ve done better when put through clear by Marvin Angulo but a heavy first touch enabled the Mariners defence to snuff out any danger from the new Qantas Socceroo.
It was the Kevin Muscat-led Victory defence which was working hardest as the Mariners midfield repeatedly burst through to create numerous opportunities in a high-tempo opening 25 minutes.
Angulo and Hernandez were combining well in Victory’s central attacking corridor but clear-cut chances were hard to come by for the visitors.
Just on half-time a ”Carlos Special” could’ve broken the deadlock but the Costa Rican’s set-piece from the edge of the box sailed over the bar.
Tom Pondeljak also went close with a low shot as Victory ended the half on top but the score remained goalless at the break.
Diogo Ferreira was a half-time substitute for Mate Dugandzic as the conditions cooled but just minutes into the second half disaster struck for Victory.
A teasing low cross from a marauding Josh Rose was guided into the Victory net by Adrian Leijer to break the deadlock.
But the game took another turn five minutes later when the dangerous Kwasnik mouthed off to the referee and the Mariners were down to 10 after Ben Williams flashed a red card.
Victory immediately were on the front foot as the Mariners dropped off and played one striker.
The visitors pressed with Kruse and Celeski both having chances to equalise as Merrick injected Ricardinho and Evan Berger late in the game.
It became one-way traffic with the 10-man Mariners hanging on in the final stages. Hernandez and Kruse worked a great opening but the Costa Rican blasted over.
But just as it looked like the home side would hang on, the 12,409 home fans were stunned.
Brebner worked hard in the six yard box to tap it back to Ferreira who smashed it home on 84 minutes.
And two minutes later it was Ferreira who drove a low powerful shot on target which was fumbled by Ryan and Brebner was first to it to poke it home for a 2-1 lead.
After that there was only one team that had the momentum and Victory held on for the points to end 2010 in fine style.
A buoyant Victory now head across the ditch to meet Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Leijer og, 47)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Ferreira 84, Brebner 86)
Crowd: 12,409 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford