Champions continue return to form as Torres, Túlio excite in win over Roar

Watch the highlights from Central Coast Mariners' 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar on Thursday night

Central Coast Mariners have turned on the style the wet, outclassing Brisbane Roar in a 3-0 win at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

The Mariners’ road win came after a 15-minute pre-game delay for lightning strikes in the area, and in the torrential conditions that followed, the away side struck on either side of half-time through Marco Túlio and Ángel Torres, with the latter adding a late second en route to a 3-0 victory.

Central Coast lost four games in a row to start their Championship defence, but have since gone five games unbeaten under Mark Jackson, with Thursday’s win their third victory on that five-game run.

The result launched the Mariners into the top six for the first time this season, just three points behind Brisbane who have now lost two games on the bounce after an excellent start to the campaign.

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In a challenging first half for both sides, Túlio showed all of his quality when an expertly-placed Storm Roux through ball sent the Brazilian in behind Brisbane’s defence just before the half-hour mark.

Macklin Freke came charging off his line, but Túlio skipped past the Roar keeper to finish into an unguarded net from a tight angle.

Túlio had the ball in the back of the net soon after half-time, only to see his second goal chalked off by a VAR review; the offside lines were drawn in the VAR booth and found millimetres separating Túlio and Brisbane’s Louis Zabala, with the offside call going in favour of the home side. 

Any hint of a Mariners objection soon faded when Torres made it 2-0 in the 56th minute. 

Brisbane’s attempt to build from the back ended in disaster, when Alou Kuol closed down Roar centre-back Tom Aldred who showed no urgency with the ball at his feet in the box. Freke cleared straight to Túlio who fed the ball to the feet of Josh Nisbet. 

The Mariners midfielder feinted a touch but opted to allow the ball to skid on by, duping defender Kai Trewin and providing space for Torres to arrive and score his fifth goal of the season.

Jackson brought Jing Reec off the bench for the Mariners in the second half and the substitute thought he’d made it 3-0 – but the offside flag was raised again, and this time the decision was crystal clear. 

Jonas Markovski came off the bench for Brisbane and, with less than five minutes to play, had a golden chance to make it 2-1.

Fellow substitute Ryan Brownlie played a cross off the left into the six-yard box and Markovski ghosted in ahead of Jacob Farrel who was caught on his heels; Markovski’s first-time shot off the outside of his boot fell straight into the arms of Vukovic in goal for the Mariners.

The visitors went on to make the Roar pay, when Torres doubled his tally on the night with a 97th-minute strike.

Torres benefited off a magnificent piece of midfield play by Josh Nisbet, who rolled his marker, drove forward and slotted him in on goal down the left-hand side of the penalty area to finish.

The moment

If there was such thing as an honorary assist, Mariners midfielder Josh Nisbet deserves one for his ingenious act in the process of the sealing goal on Thursday night.

Ángel Torres earned the plaudits for Central Coast’s second, finishing calmly past Roar keeper Macklin Freke to put the Mariners out of sight. Alou Kuol played his part, closing down Tom Aldred to put the Roar defence under pressure. Marco Túlio did too, intercepting Macklin Freke’s attempted clearance. 

Túlio then passed into the feet of Nisbet who, with his back to goal, took Roar defender Kai Trewin completely out of the equation with an inventive body feint, letting the ball roll into the path of Torres who showed his gratitude to Nisbet by lashing the ball into the back of the net.

Nisbet is relishing from a recent shift forward into a number 10 role at the tip of the Mariners midfield; he followed up his shimmy for Torres’ first goal with the assist for his brace at the death, and at the end of it all Mariners boss Mark Jackson was singing his praises yet again.

“People are joking with it saying Josh Nisbet can play anywhere – but I truly believe that,” Jackson said.

“When you’ve got an intelligent footballer like he is, he can play all over the pitch. We could see straight from the start he had qualities to play in more advanced positions. He receives the ball really, really well, he can receive on the half-turn, slide passes, and we’re challenging him now when he plays in those higher positions to get goals as well.

“We’re really, really pleased with Josh, but more importantly as a team we’re pleased with how we’re going and how we’re developing.”

The star

Marco Túlio, like the Mariners, continues to get better the longer this season goes on.

Paramount+ commentator Simon Hill described the Mariners’ No.10 as “the perfect 10” in the final minute of stoppage time, not long after the Brazilian had taken control of possession deep in his own defence with an immaculate touch, holding off multiple challengers and driving down the touchline and out of danger.

Túlio had the ball on a string on Thursday night; he was unlucky not to have a brace after the tightest of offside calls in the second half, but ended the night with a goal and an assist in a stellar showing at Suncorp Stadium.

Marco Túlio.

Post-game, Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson praised both Túlio and Ángel Torres for growing into the season and beginning to show their full potential.

“It takes time for players to blend into a way of playing, into a new team but also a new management team as well,” Jackson told Paramount+.

“We have different ideas of how we want to play, little tweaks here and there, so it takes a little bit of time for people to get that understanding.

“But right from the start I said the players were really showing a willingness to learn and get better every day, and it’s growing, and growing, and growing. Now we’re starting to see the rewards of that in the results.”