The comeback kids: Kuol nets twice as Mariners overrun Western United
Central Coast Mariners sensation Alou Kuol continued his electrifying start to the 2020/21 A-League campaign with a second-half brace which sealed a dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Western United in Gosford on Sunday night.
It took Kuol just half an hour to dismantle United, who took a 2-1 lead into the break before the 19-year-old emerged from the bench to seal a second 3-2 comeback win for the Mariners in as many games and send his side back to the top of the A-League table.
Both teams scored in a breathless opening 20 minutes of play. Tomislav Uskok latched onto a perfectly weighted free-kick from Alessandro Diamanti to put the visitors ahead before Matt Simon netted in a second consecutive game to restore parity in the contest.
Besart Berisha and Ruon Tongyik engaged in a hotly contested battle throughout the opening stanza; Berisha got the better of Tongyik by rolling the Mariners defender to fire home United's second goal before Tongyik came through the back of the United striker with a rash challenge that fuelled a war of words between the two players late in the half.
Trailing 2-1 at the break, the Mariners entered the second half of the entertaining contest in search of an equaliser which almost came from a long distance hit from Marco Ureña. Filip Kurto got down to his right to tip the ball around the post.
It proved Ureña's last touch of the game as both he and Simon were replaced by Daniel Bouman and Alou Kuol from the bench. Mark Rudan unleashed his own substitute duo in Max Burgess and Dylan Pierias into the contest and the pair instantly set about leaving their mark, with the former setting the latter in on goal for a shot saved by the outrushing Mark Birighitti.
But with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock, it was Alen Stajcic's substitutes who came to the fore. Kuol equalised from a Daniel De Silva corner to give the hosts a sniff of a comeback before the Mariners cult hero struck again in the 81st minute, diving to head Bouman's cross into the back of the net to cause a frenzy in the stands as their table-topping Mariners stunned the league once again.
Uskok connects with pinpoint Diamanti cross to put United up
An early free-kick situation presented itself to the visitors and Diamanti's eyes lit up at the chance to lay a dangerous ball into the box for United to attack.
Uskok was the beneficiary of the Italian's superb curling ball into the box which angled in toward goal for Uskok to divert off the post and into the back of the net.
Simon scores for second consecutive game in Gosford
Simon was the talk of the town after scoring and assisting in his 200th A-League game last time out, and with a taste for goals the 35-year-old was back at it again against United, scoring after a moment of chaos in the Mariners box.
A Jack Clisby corner found Ureña who diverted his header off the foot of the post. Simon got to the drop of the ball and dispatched a shot of his own; the ball deflected off a United defender, off the crossbar and over the line for an equaliser to the hosts.
MATCH REPORT: Adelaide United 1-2 Perth Glory
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Berisha rolls Tongyik, fires past Birighitti
Berisha's first goal of the 2020/21 A-League campaign came in some style at Central Coast Stadium.
Receiving the ball after a desperate bursting run down the right flank by Tomoki Imai, Berisha took one touch off his thigh and a second to turn Tongyik inside out, smashing the ball into the roof of the net with his third touch.
Kuol stands and delivers to bring Mariners level
A deep corner hit by Daniel De Silva found Kuol all alone at the back post, and the unmarked Mariners substitute made no mistake in heading his side back level.
His looping header flew from the back post and across the face of goal, looping past Kurto and dropping into the far corner to ignite the remarkable comeback.
Bouman delivers and Kuol fires Mariners ahead
Just four minutes after bringing the Mariners level, Kuol was at it again.
Not settling for the equalising goal, Kuol rushed into the box with the ball at Bouman's feet and sniffed a chance which Bouman went on to create with a magnificent ball into the box.
Kuol still had it all to do; the ball was out of his reach until the young striker leapt forward for the diving header. His connection was pure and Kurto stood no chance of keeping the ball out as it sailed into the back of the net to seal a remarkable three points for the Mariners in Gosford.
Western United v Sydney FC
Saturday, February 13 2021
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
Friday, February 19 2021
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
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