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Cummings gets hat-trick as Mariners thrash City in A-League final
Scottish striker Jason Cummings scored a hat-trick as Central Coast Mariners stunned heavy favourites Melbourne City 6-1 to win a rollicking A-League grand final on Saturday.
It capped a remarkable turnaround by the Mariners, who were down in the dumps five years ago and willing to gamble on giving sprint superstar Usain Bolt a footballing career to help raise their profile.
The widely derided plan fell through with the club instead focusing on nurturing its own young talent, which has paid off in spades under Leeds-born coach Nick Montgomery.
They took a two-goal lead in the opening 34 minutes in Sydney with strikes from Cummings and Sammy Silvera. City substitute Richard van der Venne pulled one back before the break to keep them in contention.
But two second-half penalties, both cooly converted by Cummings, sealed the win in the Mariners' first final for a decade after finishing the regular season second behind the Melbourne club.
"I don't know what happened, we just beat the champions. We just beat them 6-1," said Cummings.
"But I'm not surprised, the team we have, the hunger of the boys, the togetherness, the family, the gaffer, wow, what a journey, man.
"I have never experienced anything like it."
The defeat was deflating for City -- a sister team of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City -- who have reached four consecutive finals but won only once, against Sydney FC in 2021.
City also lost last year's final as heavy favourites to Western United.
They dominated early possession but the Mariners, with the crowd firmly behind them, weathered the storm and created a big chance on 10 minutes when Cummings broke clear.
But goalkeeper Tom Glover came out to smother the shot and Curtis Good cleared off the line.
Playing at a cracking pace, they took the lead 10 minutes later with Cummings this time hitting the target from close range for his 18th goal of the season after Beni Nkololo's run down the right and probing cross.
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With momentum on their side, the Mariners kept the pressure on and sent their fans wild with a second goal as Portugal's Silvera deftly glided into the box and side-footed home.
City picked themselves up and quickly hit back courtesy of Dutch midfielder van der Venne's instinctive finish after Socceroo Jamie Maclaren's lay-off.
City came out after the break pushing hard, with Mat Leckie rattling the post before Nectar Triantis cleared off the line to prevent an equaliser.
But the Mariners soaked up the pressure and when substitute Jacob Farrel was hacked down in the box, former Hibernian and Dundee striker Cummings stepped up to slot home the penalty and restore their two goal cushion.
Another penalty seven minutes later for handball saw Cummings repeat the feat before Nkololo and then Matheus Moresche rubbed salt in City's wounds with strikes in the final minutes.