Mariners dumped out of ACL
The Central Coast Mariners' Asian Champions League campaign is over following a 3-0 away loss to Nagoya Grampus.
The Mariners needed a win to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament, but fell short after Japanese internationals Keiji Tamada and Jungo Fujimoto netted in the first half, before Marcus Tulio Tanaka's late goal wrapped up the win.
The visitors showed promise throughout and perhaps should have made more of their early dominance of possession. Ultimately though, the A-League club were outclassed by their J-League counterparts.
Tamada, opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a well taken free kick from close range, Mariners goalkeeper Matt Ryan left frustrated by a glaring gap in his side's wall.
The visitors came close to restoring parity moments later when Patrick Zwaanswijk's fierce free kick was parried into the path of Michael McGlinchey, who forced a corner with his follow up.
Nagoya's second goal oozed quality. Fujimoto ran onto an expert through ball and produced an equally clinical chip with Ryan bearing down to double the hosts' advantage.
Despite being short of match practice - having not played a competitive fixture in two weeks - the Mariners started the second half in dynamic fashion.
Central Coast midfielder Tom Rogic was twice denied in quick succession, first by defender Hayuma Tanaka's last ditch tackle and second by the fingertips of Nagoya stopper Seigo Narazaki.
Rogic's overall performance was a positive side note for the visitors, the 19-year-old producing another promising display well beyond his years.
Defender Tanaka added a third for Nagoya with a close range header only minutes from time, ensuring that the Mariners' attention would now turn to preparing for the 2012-13 A-League season.
"It's been a wonderful experience the ACL and it's been fantastic for the young boys especially," said Mariners coach Graham Arnold, who conceded a much better side had won on Tuesday night.
"At one stage we had five 20-year-olds on the field and they've got to take a lot from it, learn from it and look forward to next season.
"I'm proud of the players, enormously because we've been through a lot this season and we got one game away from the grand final, we won the Premiership Plate and we got one game away from the Round of 16 so you can't do much more than give the credit to the players for a fantastic effort this year."