Roar snatch win in emotional injury time thriller
An injury-time double in less than a minute has earned Brisbane Roar a miraculous 2-1 win over Sydney FC in sensational scenes at Suncorp Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 from the 39th minute, the Roar first leveled with a wonder-strike free-kick from Mohamed Adnan and then sent the 14,545 into raptures when Shane Stefanutto crossed for Besart Berisha to head home the winner with scant seconds remaining.
While the Roar hoarded possession the Sky Blues looked certain to snap a three-game losing streak and deny a dominant second-half from the hosts. It was Roar magic, reminiscent of their 2010-11 grand final win against the Mariners.
Right after Berisha's match-winner the two sides came together, caught up in the emotions at the close of the game, with game-winner Berisha and Sydney's Pascal Bosschaart seemingly unwilling to let the friction die off as they got involved with each other in the tunnel.
While Brisbane ended the game in style it was Sydney who started the better.
The opening goal came from Sydney in an increasingly familiar fashion for Brisbane: with the Roar camped high, Michael Beachamp played a lovely pass through for Nicky Carle, scrambling the defense and allowing the midfielder to roll for Bridge, who fired hard off Michael Theoklitos and into the net.
But the defending champions looked a much sharper team through the final half hour of the match, after star creators Thomas Broich and Henrique were brought on in a double change, returning from an eight and seven-game lay off respectively.
While the hosts had two men make promising comebacks and finished with a landmark win, the only dampening came from the half-time loss of captain Matt Smith, who succumbed to a recurring groin injury and was replaced by former Sydney FC defender Matt Jurman.
Brisbane's slump over the previous two months had coincided with the absence of Broich, and with his first touch the star play-maker showed what his side had been missing, hypnotising his defender before finding an unmarked man at the top of the box for an unmarked shot.
Sydney will leave heartbroken not to have taken any points, having seized the initiative in the first half, taken their goal clinically and defended willfully throughout the entire 90.
Through the opening 15 Brisbane were horribly lethargic, showing no fluency in attack and conceding a string of shots to the visitors on the back of lazy turnovers from the likes of Erik Paartalu and Smith.
While Sydney started in a rush of through the enterprise of Bridge and Carle, the first signs of Roar potency came in the ninth minute, when Mitch Nichols played the line for Ivan Franjic, who cut the ball back to tee up Murdocca for a poorly-taken unmarked shot from just inside the area.
Brisbane looked to have been scolded into a more attacking mind-set in the second half, opening proceedings with a half-chance created by Rocky Visconte and Murdocca on the left flank, and then a long-range scud from big-performing Franjic.
The home side were building by increments - and then a considerable surge when Henrique and Broich entered the contest - but Sydney's resolution in defense had seemed unbreakable, with a wall of defenders positioned behind the ball any time Brisbane looked to threaten.
Brisbane Roar: 2 (Adnan 90+4, Berisha 90+5)
Sydney FC: 1 (Bridge 39)