Mariners earn vital draw

Central Coast Mariners have made a strong start to their AFC Champions League campaign after securing a 0-0 draw against Tianjin Teda in their Group G clash in China.

Central Coast Mariners have made a strong start to their AFC Champions League campaign after securing a 0-0 draw against Tianjin Teda in their Group G clash in China.

The Hyundai A-League leaders produced a solid display at TEDA Football Stadium, but were unable to find a winner against the Chinese FA Cup champions.

Mathew Ryan made several good saves for the Mariners, who had chances of their own when substitute Tomas Rogic provided a spark late in the encounter.

The other teams in Group G - K-League outfit Seongnam and J.League runners-up Nagoya Grampus - also played out a draw, leaving all four sides with a point.

The Mariners made a bright start away from home and midfielder Oliver Bozanic powered a hopeful long-range effort over the bar in just the second minute.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession in the first 20 minutes, but struggled to break down a typically stubborn Mariners defence.

Of Graham Arnold's two attacking full-backs, only Josh Rose was having his usual impact with Pedj Bojic forced to sit back on the right.

New Zealand midfielder Michael McGlinchey, whose set-pieces improved throughout the encounter, was the first to threaten on 23 minutes.

His surging run down the left and cut-back forced a scramble in the area, but Tianjin Teda eventually cleared the danger.

The best chance - and only shot on target - of the first half fell to Chen Tao on the half-hour.

A clever touch from Dutch striker Sjoerd Ars released Chen into a one-on-one with Ryan, but the Qantas Olyroo shot-stopper's strong left hand kept the effort out and his side on level terms.

The lively Wang Xinxin struck a 25-yard volley over on 40 minutes, and Tianjin Teda were unable to break through despite a strong finish to the half.

The game lifted in intensity after the interval, and Rose finally tested Song Zhenyu on 48 minutes.

With no options in the centre, the left-back struck from an angle, and Song saved comfortably with his feet.

The hosts, playing with a higher defensive line in the second half, had the better of the chances, with Ars heading a Chen cross over and Velice Sumulikoski squandering a glorious opportunity, arguably the best of the 90 minutes.

Bai Yuefeng played a delightful pass with the outside of his boot to Sumulikoski, and the Macedonian chose to try and chip Ryan, who saved with ease in the 60th minute.

Josip Kuze's men continued to push for an opener and Ars put an effort inches wide from a tough angle after brushing past Bojic.

Adam Kwasnik headed a McGlinchey corner over with less than 20 minutes to play as the contest opened up.

Star attacker Rogic, who came on as a substitute, fired a powerful effort straight at Song in the 84th minute as the Mariners pushed for an unlikely win.

A sloppy error in midfield almost cost the Mariners with two minutes left in regulation time, as Patrick Zwaanswijk appeared to bring down Mao Biao with a last-ditch sliding challenge, but Tianjin Teda's protests for a penalty were waved away.

Substitute striker Bernie Ibini had a late shot blocked by former Adelaide United defender Milan Susak as the Mariners collected a valuable point on the road.