A stunning injury time comeback from Brisbane Roar, including an inch-perfect free-kick from Mohamed Adnan and Besart Berisha’s first goal in eight appearances, has secured an important 2-1 victory over Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium.
A foul on Erik Paartalu four minutes into injury time allowed Adnan to curl the dead ball into the top corner before Berisha’s quick flick header sealed the victory with what was essentially the final play of the game.
Head Coach Ange Postecoglou named an unchanged line-up from the 1-1 away draw with Adelaide United seven days ago, opting to leave returning duo Thomas Broich and Henrique on the bench.
Sydney came flying out of the blocks from the opening whistle, forcing a corner inside thirty seconds, and were close to taking a sneaky lead on the five minute mark.
Qantas Socceroos veteran Brett Emerton headed a neat ball back to teammate Nick Carle but the striker’s touch was far from ideal and the scuffed shot was easily tamed by Roar shotstopper Michael Theoklitos.
Brisbane’s Ivan Franjic tried to give his side an instant reply to Sydney’s early vigour, first setting up Massimo Murdocca on the edge of the penalty area before teeing up Mitch Nichols on the right wing – both strikes flying the wrong side of the woodwork.
Another key chance fell to Murdocca on the half hour mark, the pint-sized midfielder squeezing his way through a flurry of opposition defenders and going close to breaking his long-term goal drought with a clever shot from a tight angle.
The home side were made to rue their missed chances in the 39th minute after Mark Bridge latched onto a Carle pass and stroked the ball into the back of the net, via a deflection from the Brisbane ‘keeper.
Bridge almost had his second on the stroke of half-time, the intervention of a flying Theoklitos preventing the striker from getting a clean touch with his head and the score remained 1-0 at the break.
The early stages of the second stanza saw Franjic try his luck from range before clever attacking from Berisha saw the Albanian striker force a save from Sydney goalkeeper Liam Reddy with a cheeky back-heel.
Matt Jurman was a half-time replacement for injured captain Matt Smith, who suffered a groin strain, but the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the 55th minute double substitution which saw Broich and Henrique thrown into the fray as replacements for Issey Nakajima-Farran and Rocky Visconte.
The pair re-joined the action without a hitch, Broich immediately chiming in with his pin-point passing, while the Brazilian livewire’s trademark speed was tough for the Sydney defenders to contain.
As the match wore on, the home side continued to dictate play with the Sky Blue defence content to sit back and soak up the pressure from the Roar’s attacking third.
Brisbane thought they had a well-deserved equaliser with just two minutes remaining on the clock but Berisha’s run was too early and the assistant referee correctly raised his flag for offside.
However, the game was far from over.
When Paartalu was brought down at the head of the penalty area, most at Suncorp Stadium would have thought Roar dead-ball specialist Broich to take control but Adnan showed he was more than worthy of the responsibility, striking the ball with the ideal combination of precision and power to level the score line.
Brisbane sealed the result in emphatic fashion less than sixty seconds later, the deftest of touches from Berisha’s head eluding Reddy and sending the 14, 545 into absolute elation.
Crazy scenes erupted on the Suncorp Stadium pitch as the full time whistle blew but nothing could take away from the never-say-die attitude of Head Coach Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
“It was quite incredible finish to the game,” Postecoglou said.
“We’ve seen some rippers here at Suncorp over the last 18 months and that will go down with them as well.
“Once again, this group of players, I know they’ll go right to the final whistle, they won’t throw the towel in.
“It was an incredible finish in terms of the way we got the result.”
Brisbane Roar 2 (Mohamed ADNAN 90+3’, Besart BERISHA 90+4’)
Sydney FC 1 (Mark BRIDGE 39’)
Saturday, 14 January 2012
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Crowd: 14, 545
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c) (4. Matthew JURMAN 46’), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11. Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN (22. Thomas BROICH 55’), 14. Rocky VISCONTE (10. HENRIQUE 55’), 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS
Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: Matt SMITH 38’, Matt JURMAN 90+2’
Red cards: Nil
Sydney FC: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 4. Pascal BOSSCHART, 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP, 7. Brett EMERTON, 8. Karol KISEL (9. Bruno CAZARINE 88’), 10. Nick CARLE (11. Dimitri PETRATOS 77’), 15. Terry McFLYNN (c), 17. Terry ANTONIS (2. Sebastian RYALL 85’), 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Rhyan GRANT
Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk)
Yellow cards: Brett EMERTON 28’, Pascal BOSSCHART 90+4’
Red cards: Nil