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Mariners crush APIA to reach FFA Cup semis

Central Coast have whipped FFA Cup giant-killers APIA Leichhardt 6-0 to secure their spot in the tournament’s semi-finals for a third time.

Matt Hatch’s incredible half-volley, in the 72nd minute, where he received the ball out wide then sliced a sublime left-footed strike into the far top corner from a tight angle, proved the highlight in the Mariners’ barnstorming victory.

NPL NSW outfit APIA had hoped to knock over an A-League Men team for the third time in their history after beating Western Sydney Wanderers in this year’s round of 16 and Melbourne Victory in 2018.

But Central Coast proved a class above at Leichhardt Oval and when APIA’s defence backed off Max Balard in the eighth minute, the 21-year-old fizzed a lovely long-range strike home.

Sixteen minutes later, Dan Hall smashed home a second amid a scramble in the Mariners’ 18-yard box.

Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti launched a goal kick in the 55th minute into the path of Moresche, who dinked the ball over onrushing APIA goalkeeper Luke Turnbull before finishing with aplomb.

In the 67th minute Garang Kuol, the 17-year-old brother of former Mariners sensation and current VfB Stuttgart striker Alou Kuol, burst forward before skidding home his side’s fourth goal.

Hatch then put an exclamation mark on the victory with his wonder strike.

Leichhardt’s Walter Scott was sent off in the 82nd minute for a challenge on Hall after the centre-back made a bursting run forward.

Four minutes later Hatch found Noah Smith, who coolly completed the rout.

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