Victory stun Mariners as Kewell scores winner

Melbourne Victory have given Jim Magilton his first win as coach as their 2011-12 campaign flickered back to life with a 2-1 win over table-topping Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory have given Jim Magilton his first win as coach as their 2011-12 campaign flickered back to life with a 2-1 win over table-topping Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

It was a match with three quality goals and a sending off, giving the fans plenty to cheer about as Victory, termed a sleeping giant for so long that there was serious concern whether they would ever wake, burst to life with their best performance under their new coach and their first win in six matches.

The Mariners took the lead on nine minuted through the wholly impressive youngster Tomas Rogic, but faced with the unusual position of trailing a match, Victory struck back through a spectacular Carlos Hernandez strike on 16 minutes.

Harry Kewell, who had described his season to date as 'a three and a half out of ten', then secured the winner on 51 minutes with a well-taken angled volley and the Mariners' hopes were all but dashed by Trent Sainsbury's send off just after the hour.

The win moves Melbourne to the brink of the top six, behind the Newcastle Jets on only goals scored with the Jets to face Melbourne Heart on Saturday.

The Mariners, unbeaten in 16 games prior to last week's loss to Brisbane, slump to successive defeats for the first time in over two years and their seven-point lead at the top will be cut when second-placed Wellington and third-placed Brisbane meet on Sunday.

The Mariners began with plenty of purpose and after a dangerous Patrick Zwaanswijk cross was narrowly missed by Adam Kwasnik, they had the ball in the net in the ninth minute.

Rogic notched his first A-League goal in spectacular fashion, pushing past Ubay Luzardo, charging into open space created by a retreating Melbourne defence and rifling a low shot past Ante Covic and into the goal from outside the box.

Victory's response was relatively swift and arguably more spectacular, with Archie Thompson the architect. He set Marco Rojas free down the right, and he cut back beautifully for Hernandez who hit a cracking shot with the outside of the foot which was unstoppable.

Aside from those early salvos, it was a first 30 minutes of few clear cut chances. On 33 minutes, Rogic tried to replicate his earlier heroics with an audacious lob, which sailed just wide, while Victory would have held the half-time lead had Justin Pasfield not got his feet to a short-range Hernandez shot generated by another Thompson cross.

There was little sign of the upcoming brilliance of Kewell when he needlessly blasted a free kick over the bar four minutes after the resumption, but a couple of minutes later those who were ducking to avoid his errant shot were cheering him.

Hernandez's corner was headed back by Kewell to Jimmy Jeggo and he set-up Kewell to smash home a goal with his left foot.

The chances continued to roll on with Kwasnik almost scoring and then Thompson narrowly missing after chipping Pasfield.

Sainsbury's disappointment with missing a gettable header was nothing compared to what was coming as his studs up challenge of Fabio saw him given a straight red.

Despite the Mariners' numerical disadvantage, they maintained the fight and after Rostyn Griffiths blasted a free kick over, Kwasnik almost manufactured a miracle scissor kick goal while lying on the ground.

But the open territory also suited Melbourne and the introduction of Danny Allsopp saw them create great chances. Twice Allsopp could have scored, while Thompson and Kewell squandered chances late on.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Hernandez 16, Kewell 51) Central Coast Mariners 1 (Rogic 9) Crowd: 14,060 at AAMI Park