Mariners down Sydney FC 1-0 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mariners down Sydney FC 1-0

By Philip Henderson 24/08/2007 11:26:05 PM Comments (0)

Sasho Petrovski sank his former club as the Central Coast striker upstaged Juninho in the Sydney FC marquee star's A-League debut.

The Mariners triumphed 1-0 over their NSW rivals in the season opener at a rain-drenched Sydney Football Stadium with Petrovski - in his first game for the Central Coast after being Sydney's leading goalscorer the first two years of the competition - claiming the winner in the seventh minute.

Juninho - who had played just 45 minutes in four months before the match - impressed in patches, showing plenty of skill and speed in a promising debut.

He played the full game, but for much of the match was well held by the close marking of towering Mariners midfielder Mile Jedinak - who had close to an extra 30cm in size over the diminutive Brazilian.

The 34-year-old's best moment came near the stroke of half-time, when he majestically weaved his way through the Mariners penalty area, only to perhaps take one too many touches and be forced to pass back - rather than shoot - after some excellent goalkeeping from Danny Vukovic.

More than 18,000 braved the cold and wet to watch the Brazilian World Cup winner, wearing No.22, play his first competitive club game on Australian soil.

Instead it was the Mariners No.22 Petrovski who stole the show, capitalising on a Clint Bolton blunder to claim one of the sweetest moments in a footballer's career - the winning goal against your former club on their home soil.

Sydney goalkeeper Bolton attempted a short goal kick, but caught his team-mates unawares, allowing Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht to intercept the ball and feed Petrovski, whose left-foot strike nestled neatly inside the right post.

It proved the deciding moment of an incident-packed game.

Sydney had plenty of chances to equalise in the first half - the most telling miss coming in the 26th minute when skipper Tony Popovic booted over the bar from the six-yard box.

They were also lucky, though, not to fall behind to a second goal a minute later when Mariners striker Nik Mrdja beat Bolton with a searing shot only to see the ball rebound off the left post.

Mrdja was again desperately unlucky not to score in the 64th when he was denied by Bolton's trailing left boot.

Vukovic - who had only jetted back into Sydney from Qatar some 14 hours before kick-off because of Olyroo commitments - then nearly gifted Juninho the equaliser in the 75th.

The 'keeper charged out of his box to prevent an Alex Brosque shot, but then continued further upfield. He was close to halfway when Juninho claimed possession, but the Brazilian's shot from just outside the box drifted over the bar.

Mariners defender Nigel Boogaard finally ensured his side all three points in the 87th with a desperate goal-line clearance, saving Central Coast after Mark Rudan's shot had beaten Vukovic.

Petrovski was booed as he was substituted in the final 10 minutes, but it could hardly dampen his delight at getting one back at the club he felt didn't want him.

"I think it was wonderful," Petrovski said of his return to the SFS.

"It's nice to get an early goal and get that monkey off my back nice and early in the season.

"The supporters, some of them up there made me feel very welcome, and others were singing 'nice' songs towards me as well, but it's all good for the atmosphere."

On Juninho, Petrovski added: "He had a few chances to score, and luckily, thank god, he didn't pull the trigger like we did.

"I think that's what made the difference in the end, there was no one to pull the trigger for them and we punished them on their mistake."

While disappointed with the result, Sydney coach Branko Culina was pleased with his side's performance and Juninho's debut.

"Juninho's the kind of player that can always do something, and he'll get better for the hit-out, there's no doubt," Culina said.

"I just think the pace of the game early on was a little bit too quick for him, but he adjusted fairly quickly and there was enough quality there to give us hope."

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