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Mariners primed for GF berth as semi second legs loom

3 minute read

A look at the first legs of the A-League Men semi-finals, where Central Coast beat Sydney FC 2-1 while Wellington Phoenix held Melbourne Victory to a 0-0 draw.

LUKE BRATTAN.
LUKE BRATTAN. Picture: Matt Blyth/Getty Images

THEY SAID IT: "He punched me in the stomach and apparently they looked at it (on VAR). I'm not trying to get anyone sent off, but I grabbed his shirt and he punched me in the stomach." - Sydney FC captain Luke Brattan has claimed he was struck by Central Coast Mariners striker Alou Kuol in an ill-tempered first leg of the two sides' A-League Men semi-final.

MAN OF THE WEEK: Brazilian winger Mikael Doka was crucial to the Mariners' win. First, his long-range shot forced Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to spill the ball into the path of Nisbet, who scored the equaliser from close range. Then, he scored the winning penalty.

TALKING POINT: Sydney were forced to play the last 10 minutes of Friday's first leg at Allianz Stadium with nine men. Jack Rodwell was dismissed after a studs-up challenge on Mariners flyer Christian Theoharous midway through the second half, while Corey Hollman was shown a second yellow in the 82nd minute. Both will miss the second leg.

STAT ATTACK: Victory striker Bruno Fornaroli has 18 goals this season but has gone goalless in his past five games, including two finals. He hasn't struck in more than a month, with his last goal a penalty against Melbourne City on April 6.

BEAT THAT: The Mariners backed up their trip to Oman, where they won the AFC Cup, with a seriously gutsy 2-1 comeback win over Sydney FC. Their hopes of a treble are well and truly alive.

WHAT'S NEXT: Wellington host Victory on Saturday afternoon with the teams locked at 0-0 on aggregate. Central Coast, with a 2-1 lead, host the depleted Sky Blues on Saturday night.

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