Super sub Di Pizio scores twice to fire Mariners into AFC Cup Final

Central Coast Mariners will compete in their first ever continental final, after booking their place in the AFC Cup final on Wednesday evening.

Super-sub Miguel Di Pizio scored a brace after coming on as a 72nd minute substitute, on a historic night for our football club.

Mark Jackson welcomed back Jacob Farrell and Alou Kuol, who returned straight back into the starting eleven after arriving back from Olyroos duty in Qatar, but it would be another Australian starlet that would steal the headlines on the night.

Much like the first leg, there was not much to separate the two teams in the first half. Danny Vukovic’s smart save from Atay Dzhumashev low shot was the highlight of the half.

The Mariners stepped up their dominance in the second half, there was a controversial moment on the hour mark when Kuol got in behind and collided with Marsel Islamkulov who was way out of his goal, but the referee saw nothing doing.

Moments later, there was a huge chance to take the lead but Islamkulov pulled off a fine double-save, firstly getting down to parry Max Balard’s long-range strike, the ball fell to Storm Roux who teed up Mikael Doka with an outrageous flick but Islamkulov scrambled across his goal and someone denied the Brazilian.

Jacko turned to his bench and brought on two previous AFC Cup heroes, Ryan Edmondson who netted a hat-trick to see us through against Phnom Penh, and Di Pizio who scored a crucial late equaliser at home to Terengganu, without that goal the Mariners could have been knocked out at the Group Stage.

It would prove to be an inspired change, Di Pizio took less than five minutes to net the games opening goal, a magical and iconic moment at Our Paradise.

Islamkulov was caught out for the opening goal, but was back to his best two minutes later to prevent Doka from making it 2-0.

Abdysh-Ata looked to be tiring as the game went on but threw everything at getting an equaliser, the closest they came was their captain and first leg hero Magamed Uzdenov’s volley from just outside the box which fizzed over Vuka’s goal.

The Mariners took advantage at the other end, as the floodgates somewhat opened after almost 180 minutes of a fantastic battle with the Kyrgyz Champions. A second on 86 minutes from Doka all but sealed a historic victory, but Di Pizio wasn’t yet done.

A loose pass in the Abdysh-Ata defence in added time presented the 18-year-old with a chance and he was making no mistake, this was his night and a night that will live long in Mariners’ fans memories.

The final will take place on May 5th, with fixture details still to be confirmed, but before then the Mariners have important business to attend to in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Four points from games against Newcastle and Adelaide will seal the first part of a potential treble, and you could be there to witness it.

Supporter bus places for one of the biggest F3 Derbies in the fixture’s history are still available, and you can also secure your seat at Our Paradise for our final regular home match of the 23/24 Isuzu UTE A-League regular season against Adelaide next Wednesday.