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Central Coast Mariners Seal Dramatic Victory in AFC Cup ASEAN Zone Final

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Central Coast Mariners Seal Dramatic Victory In Afc Cup Asean Zone Final

The Central Coast Mariners emerged victorious in a thrilling showdown against Macarthur in the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone final, securing a hard-earned spot in the next stage of the competition. The match, held at Campbelltown Stadium, saw Ronald Barcellos become the hero with a last-gasp goal, propelling the Mariners to a dramatic 3-2 extra-time win.

This crucial victory not only propelled the Central Coast Mariners closer to the AFC Cup final but also earned the cash-strapped team a significant $US100,000 ($A152,000) in prize money. The Mariners will now prepare to face the Indian side Odisha in a home-and-away inter-zone semi-final scheduled for early March.

Throughout the game, it was a battle of skill and determination with Danny Vukovic, Angel Torres, and Josh Nisbet showcasing exceptional performances. The encounter lived up to its expectations as two A-League Men sides clashed in a high-stakes competition.

In the first half, the Mariners dominated possession while Macarthur struggled to find a breakthrough. It was a tense affair with both teams creating chances but failing to convert. However, the game came alive in the 81st minute when Nisbet delivered a perfect pass to Torres, who calmly slotted the ball past Filip Kurto to put the Mariners in front.

Macarthur fought back valiantly, equalizing in the 88th minute when Davila headed in a cross from Drew. The drama continued in extra time, with Lachlan Rose and Mikael Doka scoring for Macarthur and the Mariners, respectively, setting the stage for a nail-biting finish.

As the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed large, Barcellos, who had joined the Mariners on loan from Portimonense, seized the moment and netted the decisive goal in the dying seconds of extra time. The victory sparked scenes of jubilation among the Mariners players and fans, marking a historic milestone for the club.

With this remarkable win, the Central Coast Mariners have set their sights on the next challenge as they gear up to face Odisha in the upcoming inter-zone semi-final. The journey towards the AFC Cup final promises more excitement and fierce competition as the Mariners aim to make their mark on the continental stage.

Rachel Adams

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