Daniel McBreen bagged the first hat trick by a Central Coast player in A-League football in a record 7-2 win over Sydney FC, which floundered in the absence of its international star Alessandro Del Piero.
McBreen scored his first goal from the penalty spot then clinched a triple with goals in the 65th and 67th minutes as Central Coast equaled the record for the highest-scoring match in A-League history.
Del Piero was withdrawn from the Sydney lineup shortly before kickoff with a hamstring injury which had prevented him training all week. A crowd of 15,686 - Central Coast's biggest in five years - was treated in the absence of the former Juventus star to a one-sided goal-fest.
Sydney's performance in the match at Gosford was so listless that coach Ian Cook felt moved to apologize to fans.
"I probably need to make an apology to our supporters who have been great all year and came up here in numbers again today,'' Crook said. "To see us get beaten 7-2, which is even hard to say, I think we need to say sorry to them.
"It wasn't for lack of either belief or trying. When you get beat like that people will say `They didn't show any heart' but I disagree with that.
"I just felt a good Mariners team punished us for every mistake we made tonight.''
Central Coast were able to feast on Sydney's errors in a win which lifted them briefly to the top of the league. Adelaide reclaimed first place on Sunday with a 1-0 win over reigning champion Brisbane, resting nervously on Dario Vidosic's third minute goal.
The Melbourne Victory were due to play the last match of the league's fifth round at home to Wellington on Monday.
Western Sydney opened the round on Friday with a 2-1 win over the Melbourne Heart, the second win in five matches for the league newcomers.
Last year's runner-up, Perth, beat Newcastle 3-2 on Saturday to stay in third place.
Central Coast had to pull back an early goal before overwhelming Sydney FC. Panama international Yairo Yau opened the scoring for Sydney in the eighth minute, sparking an all-out attack by the Mariners.
McBreen and Joshua Rose had chances before Central Coast equalized with a goal to Tomas Rogic in the 16th. They took the lead in the 29th with an own goal to Sydney defender Sebastian Ryall and opened a decisive lead with McBreen's 39th-minute penalty.
Iraq international Ali Abbas acrobatically pulled a goal back for Sydney but the rally was short-lived as Central Coast rained in four goals in the next 12 minutes.
Newcastle went down to Perth as the goal-scoring run of its former England international Emile Heskey came to an end. Heskey had scored four goals in his three previous matches for Newcastle but he was held scoreless on Saturday as Perth recorded its third straight home win.
Goals to Steve McGarry and Nick Ward outweighed a goal to Tiago Calvano for Newcastle and gave Perth a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Heskey made a mark when his clever header in the 73rd laid on an equalizer for Josh Mitchell. But Glory substitute Chris Harold ensured the home side took three points when he slammed home the winner from close range in the 85th.
"To come back and get the winner against the run of play, it showed good character tonight,'' Perth coach Ian Ferguson said. "We played really well last week (in a 2-1 loss to Sydney) and got nothing.
"Tonight wasn't as fluent as what we usually have been over the last three or four weeks, so to get the win tonight was pleasing.''
Western Sydney backed up last week's win over Brisbane with its first home win in the A-League.
Mark Bridge scored the opener for the Wanderers, remaining the only Western Sydney player to have found the net so far this season. Bridge also scored the winner against Brisbane while Western Sydney's second on Friday was an own goal to Heart defender Patrick Gerhardt.
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