Melbourne snatch late Victory against 10 man Mariners

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A controversial but needless send off and some poor defending cost the Mariners all three points in the New Years Eve clash at Bluetongue Stadium. Central Coast led 1-0 with just five minutes remaining before the Victory struck two quick goals after a dominant period to snatch the win.

The Mariners started strongly in front of over 12,000 home fans and had first half efforts on goal through Patricio Perez, Patrick Zwaanswijk and Matt Simon.

The Victory struggled early to trouble the home defence and clearly missed talisman Archie Thompson, with Robbie Kruse largely ineffective in the first period.

With the scores locked at half time both sides fired up early in the second period, and the Mariners took the lead in the 48th minute. Adrian Leijer turned a Josh Rose cross into his own net under pressure from Adam Kwasnik after good lead up play from Perez.

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The Mariners front man was then sent off just five minutes after the opener for his second booking. Victory captain Kevin Muscat blocked Kwasnik’s run preventing a chance to counter, and Kwasnik’s dissent at the referee’s decision not to award a free kick was rewarded with a second yellow.

The home fans were incensed and booed each touch Muscat had on the ball and were further infuriated when the opposing captain remonstrated with referee Ben Williams in a similar furious manner to that of Kwasnik and received no booking.

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The Victory pushed on with their advantage and Mariners coach Graham Arnold played with 11 behind the ball for the remainder of the half.

After dominating possession for lengthy periods after the send off, Melbourne finally equalised with just five minutes remaining after a goal mouth scramble. The Mariners defence failed to deal with a Kruse cross, giving substitute Diogo Ferreira the chance to blast home from six yards.

Just three minutes later teenage Mariners ‘keeper Matt Ryan gifted the Victory three points. Ferreira, confident from his earlier effort blasted a dipping shot from 20 yards that bounced awkwardly in front of Ryan who fumbled and couldn’t reclaim the ball before Grant Brebner pounced to tap in.

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The win sees Victory go seven games unbeaten with four wins on the hop, and remain in fifth place, while the Mariners maintain their hold on third place despite their frustrating loss in front of a season best home crowd.

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