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City edge Mariners in A-League thriller

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 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 faced another end-to-end contest on Sunday.

Roy O'Donovan shaved the upright from distance, Fernando Brandan steered a free header wide and Fabio Ferreira skewed a shot so far off course it sailed over the venue's famous sauce bottles and into the outside traffic.

But City had fired a warning back 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 but his team went on with it, their possession 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.

The Uruguayan marksman charged towards goal and was almost at his target when Izzo's decision-making went awry and the gloveman hopelessly fouled him on the line.

Referee Adam Fielding couldn't reach for his red card quick enough, and the speedy Kwabena Appiah made way for second-choice keeper Ivan Necevski, who dived left as Fornaroli sent his 40th A-League goal straight down the middle from the spot.

Somehow the game wasn't over, and City survived a touch-and-go scrap on their line - and an injury-time scuffle between Fitzgerald and Scott Galloway - as the Mariners maintained the pressure right until the end.

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