Mariners fall short

A dazzling Denilson hat-trick sent Pohang Steelers into the last 16 of the Asian Champions League with a 3-2 victory over the Central Coast Mariners.

A dazzling Denilson hat-trick sent Pohang Steelers into the last 16 of the Asian Champions League with a 3-2 victory over the Central Coast Mariners.

The South Koreans secured a see-saw win over the Mariners in Group H at the Steelyard, which eliminated the Australian side.

After an early penalty from Brazilian Denilson put Pohang ahead, two quickfire goals at the beginning of the second half from Adam Kwasnik looked to have secured the three points the Mariners needed to remain in the competition.

But, with 19 minutes remaining, Denilson grabbed the equaliser and then headed his, and Pohang's, third in the final minutes to end any faint hopes the Australians had of reaching the knockout stages.

The home side began well and took the lead after only seven minutes as Denilson made no mistake from the spot after Ryu Chang-hyun had been upended by Pedj Bojic.

Matt Simon fired wide for the Mariners in a rare threat from the visitors before Choi Hyo-jin went even closer for Pohang but his effort drifted just wide of the upright.

The hosts started the second half well and should have extended their lead after a smart pass from Kim Gi-dong freed Ryu but the striker hit his shot straight at goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

The Mariners were gifted an equaliser eight minutes after the break as Kim Hyung-il allowed a seemingly regulation long ball forward to drop over his head on the edge of the area and Kwasnik nipped in to fire home.

The Mariners' second four minutes later was equally avoidable as Kwasnik floated in a free-kick from the left channel that sailed over the heads of the waiting players and into the far corner.

But, with 19 minutes remaining, captain Kim Gi-dong found Denilson in space inside the penalty area and the striker turned and drilled a low shot into the net to pull the home side level.

And, in the 88th minute, the Brazilian headed home his third from close range to put Pohang into the last 16 along with Japan's Kawasaki Frontale.