United beats Mariners to book spot in Cup Final

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A brace from Sergio Cirio has helped Adelaide United defeat Central Coast Mariners 3-2 at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday night and seal a spot in the FFA Cup final.

Goals to Cirio and Awer Mabil late in the first half gave the Reds the lead over an abject Mariners outfit, which didn’t get into the match until the result was terminal.

The tie was fought out in very warm conditions, with the mercury sitting on 32 degrees at kick off. Pablo Sanchez started for the Reds, in lieu of the injured Bruce Djite, and Michael Marrone started for Craig Goodwin, who was unavailable.

Meanwhile, a host of new faces represented the Mariners as they started the game with eight changes following their loss to Perth Glory on Sunday. The only remaining players from that fixture were captain John Hutchinson, keeper Liam Reddy and striker Mitchell Duke.

In the 40th minute, Adelaide took the lead from the superb free kick of Marcelo Carusca, who played a very short ball to midfielder Sanchez, who then put Cirio behind the defenders. The Spaniard was one-on-one with keeper Reddy, who stood no chance against the low shot he faced.

Mabil doubled the advantage just four minutes later, thumping a drive past Reddy and inside his near post. Sanchez was chief architect once again, holding up play on the edge of the area and putting Mabil through on goal on the overlap.

Adelaide had pressed the Mariners earlier but barely had a shot in anger until the half-hour mark, at which point a flurry of opportunities went begging. At the other end, Phil Moss’ men didn’t look like scoring with their only chance from Senegalese striker Malick Mane, whose shot from the edge of the area was smothered by Eugene Galekovic with ease.

After half time, substitutes Matt Simon and Anthony Caceres came together to bring one back for the Mariners, with the latter knocking a lovely through-ball to the former which was easily knocked past Galekovic’s far post. But the match was sealed when Cirio scored his second goal, picking up the parried effort from Awer Mabil in 88th minute.

Josh Rose brought the Mariners back within a goal in injury time but it was small consolation for a team that let itself down with an abject first-half. To add to the misery, Matt Simon came off shortly after scoring with what appeared to be a quad injur, and will miss at least a fortnight.

Speaking after the game, Adelaide boss Josep Gombau said he was looking forward to the final and was pleased with the way his charges played.

“[Making the cup final] is important, and we are satisfied… for the club, for the players, for the fans,” Gombau said.

“We are in the last two, we need to be satisfied, and we need to work hard to try and win, and bring this trophy here.”

His opposite number, Phil Moss, cut a forlorn figure after the match, saying his team’s first-half effort was below par.

“Unfortunately our first half was well below what I expect, and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb,” Moss said.

“There were some harsh words spoken at half time, but that’s my job as a coach, and I take responsibility for the first half as much as the players do.

“There were some tough calls, and I certainly did what I had to do at half-time to get a reaction… and I’m pleased with the way the players responded in the second half.”

Adelaide will now face Perth Glory in the FFA Cup final on 16 December. On Saturday, they will resume their A-League duties by hosting Wellington Phoenix. The Mariners will travel to Melbourne City on Sunday.

Adelaide United starting XI: 1. Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Nigel Boogaard, 5. Osama Malik, 7. Pablo Sanchez (off 62’), 8, Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10, Marcelo Carusca, 17. Awer Mabil, 18. Jimmy Jeggo (off 62’), 21. Tarek Elrich

Adelaide Untied substitutes: 4. Dylan McGowan (on 62’), 20. Paul Izzo (GK), 22. Fabio Ferreira (on 62’), 24. Bruce Kamau, 32. Nathan Konstandopoulos

Central Coast Mariners starting XI: 3. Josh Rose, 4. Richard Vernes, 5. Zachary Anderson, 7. John Hutchinson (C), 8. Nicholas Montgomery, 9. Mitchell Duke, 12. Liam Reddy (GK), 13. Hayden Morton, 14. Malick Mane (off 45’), 26. Seung Yong Kim (off 45’), 29. Matthew Sim

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: 16. Liam Rose, 17. Anthony Caceres (on 45’), 19. Matthew Simon (on 45’, off 60’), 27. Isaka Cernak (on 60’), 34. Adam Pearce (GK)

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