THE Champions of the Hyundai A-League are just one step away from reaching the last 16 of Asia’s premier club competition after Michael McGlinchey’s 80th minute goal secured the Central Coast Mariners a courageous 1-0 win over Suwon Bluewings in Korea Republic on Tuesday.
THE Champions of the Hyundai A-League are just one step away from reaching the last 16 of Asia-s premier club competition after Michael McGlinchey-s 80th minute goal secured the Central Coast Mariners a courageous 1-0 win over Suwon Bluewings in Korea Republic on Tuesday.
Having only arrived in Suwon 22 hours before kick-off against the K-League Classic heavyweights, Graham Arnold-s men put in a performance full of spirit and character to ensure they moved to second place in Group H of the 2013 AFC Champions League.
Substitute McGlinchey-s finish ten minutes from full-time put the icing on what-s been an amazing week of firsts for the Club, and guaranteed the Mariners- Asian Champions League fate is in their own hands when they host J-League outfit Kashiwa Reysol in Gosford next Tuesday.
Earlier in the evening, Reysol drew 1-1 at home to China-s Guizhou Renhe, meaning Central Coast not only eliminated Suwon by virtue of the win, but will also advance to the knockout phase of the competition if the Chinese Super League side fail to take all three points against the Bluewings in Guiyang on Matchday 6.
Following the game Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold lavished praise on his team of confident, determined, history-making charges.
The 1-0 triumph over the Bluewings was the first time in eight attempts the Club has secured victory in Asia-s top club tournament away from home and came with many players backing up from the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
“The players showed wonderful character tonight,” Arnold said. “It just shows how hungry they are for results.”
“We arrived here at 10:30pm last night after 16 hours of travel. To put in a performance like that is out of this world.”
“I-m just amazed by that performance away from home against a team that is coming second in the K-League. It-s a sensational result for Australian football.”
“They have gone above my expectations tonight with what they-ve done,” he said.
Seo Jung-won-s Bluewings dominated possession and in truth had the better of the play in the first 45. However like Western Sydney Wanderers in Sunday-s A-League decider, Suwon failed to seriously trouble outstanding Mariners custodian Mathew Ryan.
The closest the home team came to finding the back of the net in the first stanza was via the boot of Macedonian striker Stevo Ristic. The high calibre international struck a fierce left foot volley at the Qantas Socceroos squad member in the 26th minute, but Ryan was well positioned and claimed at the first attempt.
The Mariners were primarily looking to play on the break in the first stanza, however in the second half began to gain more possession and craft a number of chances of their own.
Two minutes after the interval Nick Fitzgerald struck the side netting after being released by birthday boy Daniel McBreen. McBreen not only captained the side in Suwon but turned 36 on the day, two days after putting in a Joe Marston Medal winning performance in the Hyundai A-League decider.
The Bluewings knew a win was vital to their own AFC Champions League ambitions and Cho Jin Hoon attempted to find the back of the net for his team in the 52nd minute with a strong low drive from range. Again, Ryan was well placed to claim at the first time of asking in the slippery conditions.
Two of Central Coast-s stars in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final were wingbacks Pedj Bojic and Joshua Rose and the duo didn-t let anyone down with their efforts in Suwon. On 53 minutes Bojic burst down the right and found McBreen whose shot flew wide of Jung Sungryong-s goal.
Soon after, Rose was released down the left, and qs he so often does, the Rockhampton born flyer sent a low cross across the face of goal. Sungryong couldn-t hold the centre, however won a free kick when he collided with the onrushing McBreen in the follow up battle to win the loose ball.
Arnold introduced the creative McGlinchey in the 70th minute for the hard-working Fitzgerald, while Mile Sterjovski was introduced for Duke a short time later.
Democratic People-s Republic of Korea international Chong Tese sent a fierce shot at goal in the 74th minute, though his strike flashed wide.
The decisive play of the game came in the 80th minute as New Zealand international caught the Suwon defence napping with a perfectly times run down the left. Midfielder Oliver Bozanic found the former Glasgow Celtic man, who angled in on goal. McGlinchey shot, and while Korea Republic international gloveman Sungryong got a touch on the ball, the shot managed to nestle in the back of the net.
Knowing their fate if they couldn-t find an equaliser in the final ten minutes of play, the Bluewings threw everything at the Mariners as the clock wound down. But, lacking creativity, Jung-won-s team resorted to pumping long balls at the Central Coast backline which centre backs Zachary Anderson and Trent Sainsbury dealt with with aplomb up until referee Marai Mohammed A Alawaji’s final whistle.
Post match Arnold urged a big crowd to attend next Tuesday-s final Group Stage game for the Mariners at Gosford-s Central Coast Stadium.
“If we can win at home it-s history,” he said. “When I came here the Mariners we had never won a game in the ACL. Our campaign this year has been a very good one. We-ve had two wins and a draw.”
“If we can perform the way we did tonight and play the way we have been playing at home to Reysol then hopefully we can get the result we need.”
Arnold added his players had earned the right to relax for a day or two, and said he-d savour the feats of the past few days in the comfort of his hotel room this evening.
“They can let their hand down for two nights after that. I have no hair to let down, so I-ll be going to bed.”
The heroes of Suwon, the legends of Allianz, return to Australia on Thursday.
Suwon Bluewings 0
Central Coast Mariners 1 (McGlinchey 80-)
Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
Suwon Bluewings: 1. Jung Sungryong (Gk), 5. Park Hyunbum, 11. Stevica Ristic, 13. Seo Jung Jin (10. Dzenan Radoncic 59-), 14. Chong Tese, 15. Hong Soonhak, 16. Cho Ji Hoon (20. Lee Hyun Woong 60-), 17. Hong Chul, 18. Park Jong Jin (25. Rodrigo Pimpao Vianna 78-), 23. Eddy Bosnar, 29. Kwak Hee Joo (c)
Substitutes not used: 21. Yang Dong Won (Gk), 30. Sin Se Gye, 36. Kim Dae Kyung, 39. Min Sang Gi
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen (c), 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic (6. Patrick Zwaanswijk 84-), 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Nick Montgomery, 19. Mitchell Duke (21. Mile Sterjovski 84-), 29. Nick Fitzgerald (14. Michael McGlinchey 72-)
Substituted not used: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 8. Adriano Pellegrino, 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres
Yellow cards: Zwaanswijk
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Marai Mohammed A Alawaji (Saudi Arabia)