Tomi Juric has scored a hat-trick of penalties to guide Adelaide United to a dramatic 3-2 win over Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium.
The Reds twice came from behind before the Socceroos striker converted his third spot kick of the night in the 83rd minute on Friday to snatch all three points for Adelaide.
VAR was central to the action, having a say in two of Adelaide’s penalties – upholding the first and calling play back for the Reds’ third.
Adelaide enjoyed a promising spell in the opening minutes but it was the Mariners who broke the deadlock thanks to a poor defensive error from Jordan Elsey on 15 minutes.
The centre back’s attempted back-pass to goalkeeper James Delianov fell well short, allowing United’s Daniel De Silva to skip in and poke the ball home.
Their confidence up, the visitors continued to press forward and on 20 minutes Bozanic tried his luck from 25 metres with a powerful low drive that smacked against the base of the upright.
United were struggling for possession and lacked cohesion, but found themselves level just after the half-hour.
Reds midfielder Stefan Mauk looked to have been brought down by Ruon Tongyik, although replays suggested contact was minimal. VAR had a good look but the decision was upheld by referee Adam Fielding.
Juric stepped up and sent Mark Birighitti the wrong way to make it 1-1.
The visitors regained the lead on 63 minutes.
Matt Simon took a quick throw, catching the Reds defence napping, and substitute Alou Kuol breezed past Elsey with ease and powered a shot past Delianov at the near post.
Central Coast’s lead did not last long, however, with the Reds awarded a second penalty on 67 minutes with Mauk again in the thick of things, this time brought down by Joshua Nisbet.
Juric stepped up and blasted his second spot kick into the top corner leaving Birighitti no chance.
Ten minutes later and United were denied a third after a goalmouth scramble saw a handful of attempts somehow cleared away.
But after a Mariners counter-attack yielded a free kick for the visitors, VAR intervened and after a few minutes under review, referee Fielding awarded United a third penalty for an infringement during the scramble.
Juric coolly converted the spot kick to complete his hat-trick and clinch the points with seven minutes remaining.