Central Coast Mariners 3 Melbourne Victory 3: Berisha snatches draw in classic

Having led 3-0 at half-time, Central Coast Mariners saw Melbourne Victory fight back to 3-3 in a remarkable A-League clash.

A stoppage-time header from Besart Berisha saw Melbourne Victory come from three goals down to snatch a 3-3 draw with Central Coast Mariners in an A-League classic on Friday.

In a remarkable game at Simonds Stadium, the Mariners appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win as goals from Harry Ascroft, Josh Bingham and Mitch Austin inside 35 minutes had them 3-0 up at the break.

But the defending champions hit back in the second half, reducing the deficit to one with 24 minutes left via Berisha’s penalty and an Archie Thompson strike.

Just when it looked like the Mariners would hold on under enormous pressure, Berisha had the final say with a strong header to complete a stunning fightback by the champions.

Ascroft headed home an Austin corner to open the scoring after 12 minutes, before Bingham found the bottom corner to double the advantage on the half-hour mark.

Austin then made the most of a one-on-one with Victory goalkeeeper Danny Vukovic, but curled agonisingly wide after the break for what would prove to be a costly miss.

Berisha soon reduced the deficit from the spot and Thompson gave Victory yet more hope when he converted the rebound after Kosta Barbarouses had hit the crossbar.

Victory piled on the pressure and eventually got their reward when Berisha headed a dramatic late equalsier to break the hearts of the struggling Mariners, who are three points adrift at the bottom of the table.