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Football: Mariners break through to end Wanderers run

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Central Coast Mariners broke through for their first Australian A-League grand final victory at the fourth attempt to end the Western Sydney Wanderers fairytale winning run in Sydney on Sunday.

The Mariners won the A-League championship 2-0 with goals from veteran Dutch defender Patrick Zwaanswijk just before halftime and a 68th-minute penalty from the season's golden boot winner Daniel McBreen.

The triumph ended the Mariners' title heartbreak after losing all three of their previous grand finals in 2011, 2008 and 2006.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold said the scars of his side's dramatic loss to Brisbane in the 2011 grand final were now gone.

"There are a few boys there who have been scarred from grand finals. The scar is now gone," said Arnold, who was at the helm for the 2011 penalty shootout defeat.

"Four grand finals in eight years. Our fairytale has now been achieved."

The Wanderers, who surged into the season decider on the back of 13 unbeaten games, were bidding to win the title in their debut season and just 10 months after being formed.

Their Japanese star Shinji Ono was well marked by the Mariners defence and the Wanderers did not unduly trouble the young Central Coast goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Zwaanswijk, 38, gave the Mariners the lead with a thumping header off a corner in the 44th minute but they were fortunate not to concede a penalty moments later when defender Pedj Bojic appeared to handle the ball in his own penalty area.

The Mariners clinched the title when German defender Jerome Polenz gave away a penalty for handball midway through the second half.

McBreen powered the spot kick past Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic to put the Mariners two-up. McBreen was named the winner of the Joe Marston Medal as player of the final.

The Mariners will have little time to celebrate their title success as they head for South Korea on Monday to play Suwon Bluewings in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.

The Wanderers lifted the Premier's Plate as the top team after 27 regular rounds last month, but under the Australian system the champions are the ones who win the grand final.

"It's disappointing," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said. "We really wanted to win that game but we just weren't good enough.

"We just conceded at the wrong times and made it very difficult for us against a very good side."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130421/football-mariners-break-through-end-wanderers-run-0