Sterjovski brace as Mariners upset Sanfrecce
Australia's Central Coast Mariners celebrated one of the greatest victories in their history on Tuesday, upsetting Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 in the AFC Champions League.
Former Socceroo striker Mile Sterjovski was the star, scoring both goals in the first half to give the Mariners their first win over Japanese opposition in seven ACL encounters.
The two-time J-League champions scored first through Tsukasa Shiotani in the 21st minute.
Shiotani's free header off a corner bounced over South Korean Kim Seung-Yong guarding the far post.
But Kim quickly made up for his defensive blunder by latching onto a long ball from Eddy Bosnar and playing in the fast-breaking Sterjovski, who finished smartly for the equaliser two minutes later.
Sterjovski, 34, who has announced his retirement at the end of the A-League season, put Mariners in front after 32 minutes with a fabulous strike from outside the area for his second goal of the night.
The defending A-League champion held out Sanfrecce in the second half and had a late scare when Yusuke Minagawa narrowly missed scoring in the final minutes.
"Let's not understate this result. This is a famous victory for the Central Coast Mariners," coach Phil Moss said.
"Some fantastic performances from my boys tonight, full of courage, but of quality as well.
"That (second) goal from Mile Sterjovski, boy did that wind the clock back."
The Mariners are off to China for the next round in Group F to play Beijing Guoan on March 19, while Sanfrecce host FC Seoul.
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