By Michael Church (Reuters) – Central Coast Mariners won the A-League championship for the first time in a decade as Australia striker Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of premiers Melbourne City in Sydney on Saturday. Cummings, due to leave Mariners at the end of the season, opened the scoring from close […]
Soccer-Cummings hat-trick as Mariners demolish Melbourne to win title
By Michael Church
(Reuters) – Central Coast Mariners won the A-League championship for the first time in a decade as Australia striker Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of premiers Melbourne City in Sydney on Saturday.
Cummings, due to leave Mariners at the end of the season, opened the scoring from close range before netting twice from the penalty spot after Sammy Silvera had doubled Central Coast’s lead with a fine individual strike.
Beni Nkololo added the fifth with a close-range header in the dying minutes and Brazilian substitute Moresche completed a remarkable win for Nick Montgomery’s side in stoppage time.
“I don’t know what happened, we just beat the champions,” said Cummings. “They won the league, a great team, and we’ve just beat them 6-1.
“I’m not surprised. The team that we’ve got, the hunger, the togetherness, the family, the gaffer, what a journey man.
“I’ve been here a year-and-a-half and the gaffer changed my life. My career was spiralling out of control and I just fell in love with the Coast.”
Cummings landed the first blow in the battle between the regular season’s top two finishers in the 20th minute as Nkololo had galloped down the right to send in a cross which the striker lifted past Tom Glover at the second attempt.
City, favourites going into the final, were restricted to long-distance efforts and in the 34th minute they were further behind.
Cummings turned provider this time, feeding the ball into Silvera, who sped past right back Nuno Reis and guided his shot into the bottom corner of Glover’s goal.
Richard van der Venne halved the deficit five minutes before the break when he steered in Jamie Maclaren’s cut-back while Glover kept Mariners out at the other end with an instinctive save to deny Nkololo.
Mariners withstood City’s efforts to pull level and with 25 minutes remaining, Cummings netted from the spot after Andrew Nabbout had brought down Jacob Farrell.
Seven minutes later Cummings beat Glover with another penalty, this time after Callum Talbot handled as he slid in to make a vain attempt at claiming possession.
Nkololo nodded in Silvera’s perfectly-flighted cross to further add to the humiliation of City, who lost in the championship final for the third time in four years, before Moresche completed the rout.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ed Osmond)