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City edge Mariners in A-League thriller

NZN 5/03/2017 Emma Kemp

Melbourne City have climbed into third place after surviving a frenetic 3-2 A-League thriller against 10-man Central Coast, thanks to some luck and Paul Izzo's goalkeeping implosion.

A Bruno Fornaroli brace, own-goals and goalkeeping howlers were the order of the day as Mariners captain Nick Montgomery and young City defender Ruon Tongyik both found the wrong net, before Izzo's 62nd-minute red card and subsequent penalty finished City's job for them.

For the visitors, it was just as well, as City had not managed to dominate their much lower-ranked opponents this campaign, and they came under pressure on Sunday until the final whistle.

But City had sent a warning in the fourth minute when Fornaroli struck the opener with precision, bending a free-kick around the Mariners' wall and wrong-footing Izzo in his 50th A-League appearance.

It was tough for the almost 6000 fans braving the wet to watch Izzo stand frozen to the spot, but the manner in which the Mariners conceded the second was cruel.

Connor Pain went down in the box during a hustle with Tongyik and his penalty appeal had barely been waved away when City set off on the counter-attack.

Fornaroli fed Brandan and the Argentine squared for Anthony Caceres and, just as the former Mariner released his shot, Montgomery stuck out a desperate boot and inadvertently deflected into his own net.

Paul Okon was livid at the decision and was duly warned by referee Adam Fielding.

"I think there was only one person who thought it wasn't a penalty, and that was the referee," he said afterwards.

"I'm not sure of the difference between the Izzo incident and that incident where Tongyik clearly fouls Connor Pain."

Regardless, Okon's team went on with the job and their possession was rewarded when Ferreira's free-kick took a deflection and left Thomas Sorensen diving in vain just before halftime.

After the break, Central Coast drew level as confusion reigned in the City defence and Tongyik sliced the ball into an empty net with Sorensen off his line.

Farce took over just after the hour mark when Izzo's clearance was snatched by Fornaroli.

As the Uruguayan marksman charged towards goal Izzo's decision making went awry, and the gloveman hopelessly fouled him on the line.

Fielding couldn't reach for his red card quick enough, and the speedy Kwabena Appiah made way for second-choice keeper Ivan Necevski, whose first task was plucking the ball out of his net after Fornaroli sent his 40th A-League goal straight down the middle from the spot.

City coach Michael Valkanis believed his side dropped too deep in the second half.

"The boys just went into protective mode and, sometimes, it's much better to be brave and continue with the way we like to defend, up higher and pressing," he said.

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