Triple treat in Gosford

Melbourne has remained on top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after a superb second-half performance resulted in a 3-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

Melbourne has remained on top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after a superb second-half performance resulted in a 3-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

Carlos Hernandez had gone five games without scoring a goal, but after copping a nasty knock in the first half, shrugged off the pain to finish off some great teamwork on 57 minutes.

He then started the attacking manoeuvre for the second 14 minutes later, which Matthew Kemp was on the end of for just the second goal of his 91-game Hyundai A-League career.

The Mariners' worst loss of the season - and first at home - was completed when Nigel Boogaard deflected the ball into his own net on 77 minutes.

The win maintains Melbourne's three-point buffer over Sydney on top of the table and continues a remarkable run of away form which has seen Victory win eight and draw one of ten matches on the road this year. It also goes some way to avenging the two losses, 2-0 and 4-0, the club had suffered at the hands of the Mariners at Etihad Stadium earlier in the season.

The first two scoring chances of the match fell to Hernandez, who smashed his first one wide from range and then pulled his second one narrow after getting into a dangerous position.

Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic was called on a couple of times to intervene as Melbourne looked for the long ball to unlock a compact home defence. Kemp also created a couple of excellent chances, with a shot deflected wide, before his mazy run was all set to be finished by Tom Pondeljak, only for Brad Porter to clear.

The home side had clearly the best chance of the half when on 33 minutes, Matt Simon, who had already scored against Melbourne twice this year, headed powerfully from a cross and Mitch Langerak made an excellent close-range save.

The Melbourne goalkeeper was also on hand to deny Nicky Travis' angled shot soon after.

Melbourne headed into half-time level on the scoreboard, but with one player down, after Surat Sukha injured his hamstring and was replaced by Matthew Foschini. Hernandez and Archie Thompson were also limping from heavy knocks in the first half.

Central Coast came out with a more attacking mindset in the second half and created a couple of half chances which were well dealt with by Langerak. But their intention to push forward provided Melbourne with a chance to take the lead.

On 57 minutes, Thompson ran the ball through midfield and freed up Kemp on the right. The cross was superb from Kemp, picking out Hernandez in the box and the Costa Rican met the ball on the run and steered it past Vukovic.

The goal prompted much more urgency from both sides, and on 64 minutes Bojic beat Langerak but hit the post and immediately Melbourne charged forward with Heffernan blocking Kemp's shot. Leigh Broxham then produced a courageous block to prevent Ahmad Elrich levelling the scores.

That act looked especially significant on 70 minutes, when Hernandez linked up with Pondeljak to give Thompson space down the right. Having set-up the first goal, Kemp was on the receiving end this time, finishing well at the near post to make it 2-0.

The result was secured in bizarre circumstances on 77 minutes. Kemp again broke down the right and his innocuous cross forced Nigel Boogaard to slide in and his miscued clearances left Vukovic stranded and the ball in the net.

The Mariners pushed hard to get something out of the game, but the Melbourne defence was determined to maintain a clean sheet. Rody Vargas had a great game at the back, while Langerak, who has conceded just one goal in four games since returning to the starting XI, produced a world class save to deny Dean Heffernan late on.

Central Coast Mariners 0 Melbourne Victory 3 (Hernandez 57, Kemp 71, Boogaard 77og) Crowd: 7571 at Bluetongue Stadium Saturday, December 12, 2009 Referee: Ryan Shepheard