Besart Berisha bagged a brace and Henrique converted from the spot as Brisbane Roar consolidated second place on the Hyundai A-League ladder with an entertaining 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane made just one change from the last Sunday’s starting eleven with midfielder Mitch Nichols returning at the expense of young Nick Fitzgerald, who took his place on the bench.
When these two sides met on New Year’s Eve, it only took Melbourne Victory two minutes to break the deadlock through a magnificent solo effort from Harry Kewell and the start of this meeting was just as dramatic.
Roar striker Berisha - fresh from penning a new two-year-deal with the club mid-week – needed no less than 43 seconds to hit the target, finding the ball at his feet through a flurry of bodies and easing the ball past Covic to give the Suncorp Stadium faithful an early reason to cheer.
But the cheers were short lived, as seven minutes later an uncharacteristic turnover in the midfield gifted Marco Rojas possession of the ball and the young Kiwi was quick to find Kewell for his sixth strike of the season, his second against the Roar.
Both goalkeepers were hard at work and Covic’s effort on the quarter hour mark was especially impressive, diving right to divert a stinging long-range shot from Brisbane’s Erik Paartalu to keep the ledger level.
Victory strike man Jean Carlos Solorzano, a member of the Roar’s Hyundai A-League championship-winning squad last season, almost found a goal against his former employers ten minutes later but his tap-in from a Carlos Hernandez shot was from a clearly offside position.
The home side continued to exploit the area down the right wing granted to them by the Melbourne defenders and it was in this space they found their next goal when three of Brisbane’s imports combined in one sublime move.
A timely pass from Thomas Broich found the path of Henrique, the Brazilian sliding the ball across the face of goal and inviting Berisha to tap home his second of the night from inside the six yard box.
Paartalu was in the thick of the action for the Roar and after he was brought down in the penalty box by Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo, spot kick specialist Henrique seized the responsibility and calmly slotted home Brisbane’s third seven minutes before the break.
While Ange Postecoglou’s men were in the driving seat for most of the encounter, a lapse in concentration five minutes into the second stanza allowed Harry Kewell to reduce the deficit with a well-taken strike.
The goal proved to be a boost for the Melbourne side, who rallied going forward and twice inside a minute had a chance to equalise - first through an inches-wide Kewell strike and then a thunderous volley from Hernandez that rocketed off the crossbar.
Brisbane hung on to their lead to take another crucial three points and fittingly, their second largest crowd of the season - 18,523 - was there on a night where two personal records were broken at Suncorp Stadium.
Massimo Murdocca broke the record for most appearances by a Roar player (132) with his 90 minute performance, overtaking former skipper Matt McKay’s tally, while Berisha now holds the record for most goals scored by a Brisbane player in one season (15, previously 13) with his two goal haul.
Murdocca, who was also named as the Brisbane Roar Player of the Match, conceded it was a difficult night against an unpredictable opponent but was pleased to be able to celebrate his new achievement with a victory.
“It was a very exciting game to be honest,” he said.
“I was running up and down - people probably think I do that every game but tonight was really tough.
“They moved the ball around really well so it was a tough game for me but we got the win.
“I’m very fortunate, my 100th game we won and this milestone we won again so I’m blessed.”
Brisbane Roar 3 (Besart BERISHA 1’ 32’, HENRIQUE (pen) 38’)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Harry KEWELL 8’, 50’)
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Local kick-off: 6:45pm (7.45pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 18, 523
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 10. HENRIQUE (11. Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN 75’), 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH (24. Nick FITZGERALD 50’)
Substitutes not used: 12. Matt MUNDY, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 3. FABIO, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5.Mark MILLIGAN, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (10. Archie THOMPSON 45’), 11. Marco ROJAS, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17. Jimmy JEGGO, 21. Ante COVIC (GK), 22. Harry KEWELL (18. Danny ALLSOPP 75’), 23. Adrian LEIJER (c), 24. Ubay LUZARDO
Substitutes not used: 1. Tando VELAPHI (gk), 6. Leigh BROXHAM
Yellow cards: Adrian LEIJER 10’, Ante COVIC 37’, Mark MILLIGAN 69’, Petar FRANJIC 71’
Red cards: Nil