Victory produce stunning comeback to sink Mariners
A late Kosta Barbarouses goal has seen Melbourne Victory complete a remarkable second-half comeback to beat Central Coast Mariners 3-2 in Gosford on Saturday.
Victory trailed 2-0 at half-time after two stunning free-kicks from Andrew Hoole had the home fans believing the upset was on.
But Kevin Muscat’s men had other ideas, drawing level within 22 minutes of the resumption through goals from James Troisi and a Ben Kennedy own goal.
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And then with two minutes left it was Barbarouses who would have the final say, racing onto Troisi’s pass, beating his defender before producing an assured finish to send the visiting fans into raptures.
The win not only keeps Victory on the tail of league-leaders Perth Glory, but also increases their unbeaten run against the Mariners to 17 games and almost six years.
A Victory triumph looked unlikely as Hoole stole the headlines in the first-half.
His memorable day started on 18 minutes with the first of his sublime free-kicks.
A shot at goal didn’t seem on the cards with the ball more than 30 metres from goal but Hoole had other ideas, curling a sensational strike past the outstretched hands of Lawrence Thomas into the top corner.
The goal sparked the Mariners into life and only the width of the post denied Matt Millar doubling the lead soon after, with his cross-turned-shot looping over Thomas but smacking onto the woodwork.
Thomas had to be alert to tip Jacob Melling’s dipping volley over the bar nine minutes before the break before Hoole produced his second moment of magic in first-half stoppage time.
This free-kick was a lot closer to goal, but the classy playmaker still managed to get the ball up and over the wall into the same corner of the net.
Looking for a reaction, Victory boss brought Elvis Kamsoba on at half-time and the winger had an immediate impact.
Kamsoba skinned his defender on the left before cutting back to Troisi who took one touch before firing it past Ben Kennedy.
It was all Victory now and – a minute after hitting the bar – Kenny Athiu was involved in the equaliser midway through the second half.
After Kennedy failed to deal with a cross from the right, Athiu poked the loose ball towards goal and while the Mariners gloveman did his best to claw it around the post, he only succeeded in putting the ball into his own net.
Skipper Matt Simon almost regained the lead for the Mariners when he went close with a header eight minutes from time before Barbarouses broke the home side’s hearts at the death.