A goal-fest with some late drama at AAMI Park saw Melbourne City extend our undefeated streak to five games on Sunday evening.
We were made to come from behind twice against the Mariners but a 92nd-minute debut A-League goal to Alessandro Lopane ensured we’d get a share of the points.
Aurelio Vidmar made a sole change to his line-up from our midweek AFC Champions League XI that drew with Zhejiang.
Mathew Leckie missed through a hamstring injury, while Captain Jamie Maclaren was passed fit enough to start in his place.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 11. Leo NATEL, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 4. Nuno REIS, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 37. Max CAPUTO, 46. Ben MAZZEO.
The evening couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start for us, Marin Jakolis scoring his first A-League goal just two minutes in.
Aziz Behich burst down the left and saw his cross deflected, but it would sit up perfectly for Jakolis who tapped home into a virtually empty net after Danny Vukovic was caught off guard.
Miguel Di Pizio forced Jamie Young into his first save of the night in the 15th minute, our number one making a relatively standard stop low to his left.
We’d have the better of the first half as a whole with Tolgay Arslan wreaking havoc in midfield as usual with a strong supporting role from Hamza Sakhi, but we wouldn’t get another proper sight at goal until the 37th minute.
Jamie Maclaren was in the perfect spot to pick up the scraps from a blocked Steven Ugarkovic shot, taking a close touch before forcing a great reflex save out of Vukovic.
Although we went into the break ahead, it took just four minutes for the Mariners to equalise with Angel Torres capitalising on a loose clearance.
10 minutes later he was causing problems again, finishing well from a tight angle to give the visitors a 1-2 advantage.
A couple of moments of Leo Natel brilliance just moments after the following kick-off set up an immediate response.
The Brazilian took a strong touch and breezed around two defenders, then threaded a pass to Arslan who was classy as ever with his finish into the far bottom corner – nutmegging Brian Kaltak in the process.
The 65th minute saw a couple of moments of chaos in front of our goal but someone we stayed on level terms. Curtis Good first pulled off a last-ditch block on the goal line, before Jamie Young’s diving save denied Marco Tulio.
The visitors continued to heap the pressure on our penalty area and we’d eventually come undone in the 82nd minute, Torres striking to complete his hat trick and give his team the lead once again.
In the final moments, Vidmar turned to his bench to introduce Max Caputo and Alessandro Lopane.
We entered six minutes of stoppage time needing a spark to get something out of the contest and that’s exactly what we got. Caputo had a few nice moments playing as a second striker, while Lopane found himself space in the 92nd minute to find the crucial goal.
The young midfielder started the move with a switch to Callum Talbot who played it to Jakolis on the right wing, a slick team move then saw the ball return to Lopane for the one-touch finish to make it 3-3.
It doesn’t get much bigger than our next game, your City boys set to return to AAMI Park for a massive Melbourne Derby doubleheader.