A Martin Corujo hat-trick helped Tuggeranong United cruise to an effortless 8-1 Premier League victory over Monaro Panthers at the AIS on Thursday night.
The drubbing was contrived by an outstanding team effort from United, which was rarely made to sweat during the dominant and complete 40-minute display.
United’s Corujo-led attacking exhibition, which also yielded a brace from Jackson Kupe and contributions from James McLachlan, Luke Fattore and Tim Stewart, was complemented by a stern defensive effort. Simon Badman was in scintillating form in goal, he and his side extinguishing all bar one of Monaro’s attacking forays.
Gianmarco Senatore snatched a late consolation for the Panthers, but his effort barely took the gloss off what was United’s third win in four attempts. The result leaves the Gunners sitting comfortably in third position on the Premier League table after four rounds, while the defeat has relegated Monaro to seventh-place and has left the side with just one win so far this term.
Tuggeranong started the match brightly – unsurprisingly given its recent good form – as it bossed Monaro, pressed high and controlled most of the possession. United’s superior passing game was evident from the outset and it effectively caused all kinds of trouble for Monaro.
A dazzling exchange of one-touch passes, which involved four Tuggeranong players, delivered an ominous expression of intent from United. The well-worked play nearly resulted in the Gunners’ first chance on goal, but a desperate piece of cover defence by Milan Popovic denied McLachlan the opportunity to open fire.
It was all United from that point, each attacking foray proving to be more dangerous than the last, while Monaro’s offensive game was limited to the occasional counter-attack.
The Gunners’ first real opportunity came courtesy of Antoni Jagarinec, who dealt with McLachlan’s lobbed delivery accordingly, but his effort failed to trouble Nathan Alferink in the Monaro goal as it sailed high over the crossbar. Soon after, Ufuk Talay sent his effort just wide of the left post, while Jagarinec was denied by the right post.
Corujo ensured his side’s dominance began to translate into goals mid-way through the first half. A handy one-two play with Kupke saw Corujo latch onto the return pass and slot home for his first of the night.
Shortly after, Jake Wilsener had Monaro’s best opportunity of the half on the counter-attack. The Panthers man easily evaded McLachlan before charging into United territory and unleashing a fierce left-footed effort, which forced a good save from Badman.
On the odd occasion Monaro did venture into United territory from that point, Badman and his defensive line made easy work of dousing any threat the Panthers posed.
A flurry of goals late in the half ensured Tuggeranong a comfortable 4-0 lead at as it entered the break. Jagarinec and Corujo exchanged passes before the latter’s cross was tapped in by Kupke, McLachlan threaded the needle to net from a seemingly impossible angle and Kupke won a goal line scrimmage to claim his side’s fourth and cap a dazzling first period from United.
Despite allowing Senatore to have the first real opportunity after half time, the Monaro man shooting low and wide of the left post, the complexity of the second half differed little to the first. United seized control once again and was relentless in its search of further goals. It took just two minutes after the restart for a fifth to come. An unmarked Corujo collected a pass from Fattore and his right-footed strike was on target for his second of the night.
Monaro failed to respond shortly after, with a golden opportunity going to waste. Nik Popovic schooled Jagarinec with some fancy footwork and released the ball to brother Milan, who was unable to control the ball and get a shot off from close range.
A poor Monaro pass deep inside United territory then allowed an onrushing Corujo to assume possession and dart down the left flank before finishing neatly in the bottom right corner. Corujo’s strike, which completed his hat-trick, extended United’s lead to 6-0 and poured cold water on the already unlikely possibility of a Monaro comeback.