26 May 2024

Central Coast Mariners are back-to-back A-League champions

6:42 am on 26 May 2024
The A-League winners trophy on display before the start of the match

The A-League winners trophy Photo: David Woodley

Central Coast Mariners came from behind to beat Melbourne Victory 3-1 in the A-League grand final at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday, winning back-to-back titles and becoming the first Australian team to seal a historic treble.

Mariners had won the league crown as well as the AFC Cup while their extra-time win on the back of Ryan Edmondson's late double also denied Victory a record-equalling fifth trophy.

"I still think I'm dreaming, someone needs to wake me up because what's just gone on in the past 120 minutes - I can't comprehend," Edmondson said.

"All season these boys have had a never-say-die attitude. It's gone from losing the first four games of the season to this. It goes to show the character of each and every one of us."

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Victory coach Tony Popovic, who has now lost five times in the Grand Final with three different clubs, while his counterpart Mark Jackson wrapped up a trophy-laden debut season in Australia.

After a goalless first half, Victory took the lead five minutes into the second when Jason Geria scored with a bolt from the blue, pulling the trigger from outside the box to find the top corner for his first goal of the season.

But their attempts to hold on for a 1-0 win were foiled in injury time when Mariners equalised in the 91st minute after Joshua Nisbet set up Edmondson to score, forcing extra time with their first shot on target.

Mariners completed the comeback seven minutes into the first period of extra time with a sweeping move which ended with Ronald Barcellos squaring the ball for Miguel Di Pizio, who turned it in to spark celebrations in the stands.

As the Mariners fans began bouncing as one and prepared to rush on to the pitch at full time, Edmondson grabbed his second when he dribbled into the box and curled a shot past the keeper and in.

"A lot of it is the mindset, that's what it is. We've got a fantastic group of players," Jackson said.

"Never write us off... Once we scored, I knew we'd get another one."

- Reuters

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