Mariners bow out of Asia

CENTRAL Coast Mariners’ historic 2013 AFC Champions League campaign came to an end on Wednesday with the team defeated 3-0 by Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou Evergrande at the Tianhe Stadium in China.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners- historic 2013 AFC Champions League campaign came to an end on Wednesday with the team defeated 3-0 by Marcello Lippi-s Guangzhou Evergrande at the Tianhe Stadium in China.

The loss to the wealthiest Club side in the vast continent saw the 2013 Hyundai A-League Champions bow out of Asia-s premier Club competition 5-1 on aggregate over two legs.

The Mariners- ambitions to trump Guangzhou Evergrande for a place in the last eight of the 2013 AFC Champions League were dealt any early blow when Brazilian attacker Muriqui netted in the seventh minute of play. Following a swift move through midfield the crafty Brazilian slid a well-placed shot beyond Central Coast custodian Mathew Ryan to put his team ahead.

Evergrande-s dangerous Dario Conca looked up for the contest from the outset and it was the Argentine schemer who was central to most of Guangzhou-s best play as they looked to extend their advantage. Conca sent a shot just wide of the woodwork in the 15th minute before Ryan did well to claim another effort from the former Fluminense man soon after.

The Mariners- best chance of the first 45 came following an incisive move up the pitch in the 30th minute. Midfielder Nick Montgomery found attacker Mitchell Duke, who then teed up Michael McGlinchey.McGlinchey struck a powerful shot at Zeng Cheng-s goal, however the Evergrande defence did enough to deflect the New Zealand international-s shot just wide of Cheng-s left post.

Unfortunately, any realistic hope Central Coast had of getting back into the tie was dashed just moments before half-time. Bernie Ibini was judged to have fouled Muriqui in the box, with referee Taleb Salem H A Al-Marri pointing to the spot. The decision from the Qatari official looked somewhat dubious with minimal contact appearing to have been made on the Brazilian ace.

Stepping up from 12-yards, Conca fired past Ryan to put the tie realistically out of Central Coast-s reach.

Following the break, Central Coast Mariners showed their trademark fight and endeavour, looking to make an impression on the contest and the 39,564 fans in attendance and millions watching worldwide.

The energetic Joshua Rose continued to show purpose down the left, while McGlinchey looked Central Coast-s best outlet on the opposite side.

However, Goa Lin put the match beyond the Mariners- reach and added further gloss to Guanzhou-s aggregate win in the 68th minute. Again, Conca played provider, finding Gao who took a touch before firing past Ryan.

Following the game, Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold admitted that over the two legs his team were beaten by a better team.

“I think you have to be honest and fair and say that we were beaten by a better side,” Arnold told the media. “We had our best chances in Australia to win the game last week, and to put some pressure on them in the tie.”

“They have some wonderful players with blinding pace and they thoroughly deserved to win over the two games, and I wish Marcello Lippi and Evergrande all the success in the future games.”

“I have to say that in the two years we have been playing in the Champions League, they [Guangzhou Evergrande] are the best team we have come up against.”

“We were hoping to hold them to nil against until the 50th or 60th minute and then go for it, but the early goal they scored didn-t help that plan.”

Guangzhou Evergrande 3 (Muriqui 7-, Conca (pen) 45+1, Gao 68-) Central Coast Mariners 0 Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Evergrande: 5. Zhang LINPENG, 6. Feng XIAOTING, 10. Zheng ZHI (c), 11. MURIQUI, 15. Dario CONCA, 19. Zeng CHENG (Gk), 28. Kim Young GWON, 29. Goa LIN (8. Qin SHENG 71-), 32. Sun XIANG, 33. Rong HAO (7. Feng JUNYAN 58-), 37. Zhao XURI (16. Huang BOWEN 61-) Substitutes not used: 4. Zhao PENG, 14. Feng RENLIANG, 22. Li SHUAI (Gk), 25. Peng XINLI Yellow cards: Xiang, Zhi Red cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (c) (11. Oliver BOZANIC 59-), 9. Bernie IBNI (29. Nick FITZGERALD 77-), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Nick MONTGOMERY, 19. Mitchell DUKE (21. Mile STERJOVSKI 72-) Substitutes not used: 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 4. Pedj BOJIC, 8. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 15. Brad MCDONALD Yellow cards: Hutchinson, McBreen Red cards: Nil

Referee: Taleb Salem H A Al-Marri (Qatar) Attendance: 39,564