Ronald Barcellos scores late as Central Coast Mariners down Macarthur Bulls in AFC Cup

Central Coast’s Ronald Barcellos (centre) has emerged as the hero in Thursday night's AFC Cup win.

Central Coast’s Ronald Barcellos (centre) has emerged as the hero in Thursday night's AFC Cup win. Photo: Getty

A dramatic last-gasp goal from Brazilian Ronald Barcellos has moved Central Coast Mariners a step closer to the AFC Cup final with a dramatic 3-2 extra-time win over fellow A-League Men side Macarthur FC.

With just seconds to go until a penalty shootout was required in Thursday’s ASEAN Zone final at Campbelltown Stadium, the ball fell kindly for Barcellos, who held his nerve to fire his side into the next stage.

His 11th-hour strike also secured the cash-poor Mariners $US100,000 ($152,000) in prize money.

Central Coast will now face Indian side Odisha home and away in early March in an inter-zone semi-final, with the winner moving into another two-legged tie to determine who faces West Asia’s representative in the AFC Cup final.

With Josh Nisbet pulling the strings, the Mariners had the best of things across the opening half but created few genuine chances, the Bulls’ Valere Germain fashioning the two best sights on goal before the break.

The Bulls improved in the second half but it was the Mariners who made the breakthrough in the 81st minute, when Nisbet sliced an inch-perfect pass behind the Bulls’ defence for substitute Angel Torres to run onto and dink past Filip Kurto.

The hosts refused to surrender, and they forced the game into extra-time in the 88th minute when Ulises Davila got a glancing head to a Jed Drew cross, to send the ball past Central Coast keeper Danny Vukovic and level the scores.

The Bulls struck again moments into extra time, when Lachlan Rose brought down a ball from Germain and poked his shot beyond Vukovic.

The breathless pace continued, with Mikael Doka ensuring another twist when he drove forward from right back and cannoned an effort past Kurto to level proceedings once again.

With penalties looming, Barcellos – who only joined the Mariners last month on loan from Portuguese club Portimonense – popped up to seal the back-and-forth contest in dramatic fashion.

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