Roar go back-to-back amid drama

Sunday, 22 April 2012 6:50 PM

Brisbane Roar have captured their second consecutive Hyundai A-League Championship in the most dramatic of circumstances, with a controversial injury-time penalty delivering a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

Glory led from the 51st minute to the 84th, before the competition's top-scorer Besart Berisha headed the equaliser with six minutes to go.

Just like the 2011 edition, the match appeared set for extra-time, only for referee Jarred Gillett to award the home side a penalty in the final seconds of injury time.

Berisha slalomed his way into the Glory penalty box and appeared to be tripped while taking a shot on goal.

The Perth players remonstrated furiously, with replays showing no contact had been made on the Albanian front man.

But they were powerless to stop Berisha hammering home the spot kick to claim a brace and win the match in dramatic and controversial fashion.

Glory had been on the cusp of a historic win after taking the lead when a cross deflected off Ivan Franjic for an own goal in the 51st minute.

Billy Mehmet was the architect, splitting the Roar open with a scything run through the midfield.

He delivered to the right flank where Travis Dodd skidded through a low cross which ricocheted off Ivan Franjic and into the back of the net.

Brisbane probed and pushed relentlessly in chase of their equaliser, and in the end it was produced by the likely suspects, with A-League Player of the Year Thomas Broich sending in the perfect cross for Golden Boot winner Berisha to head past a helpless Danny Vukovic.

Dean Heffernan then left the visitors a man down for the final seconds, after taking out Franjic in injury time to collect his second yellow card, having earned his first for a needless challenge on Broich.

Earlier, tension at Suncorp Stadium grew throughout the tight contest, with the 50,334-strong crowd weathering a cagey opening half hour, before the game opened up.

The final 40 minutes were played with the Roar in hot pursuit of Perth's narrow lead.

Brisbane began to make inroads for the first time shortly before half-time, creating chances for Mitch Nichols and Berisha.

They came within a finger tip of taking the lead in the 41st minute when Glory stopper Danny Vukovic made a diving save to thwart a long-range rocket from Franjic.

Perth's first big scare came at the quarter-hour mark, when the A-League's all-time leading goal-scorer Shane Smeltz was cut deeply from nose to lip after taking an elbow to the face in a bone-shaking collision with Roar skipper Matt Smith.

Three minutes of treatment later and with heavy strapping around the face, Smeltz was able to continue and the Glory fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Broich had been held relatively quiet in the first half, but he gave a great display of his class in the 50th minute, jinking between defenders and firing hard at goal, where Vukovic could only parry away.

Brisbane's experience was nowhere to be seen in a nervous start to the contest. They attempted an uncharacteristic, long-passing game and conceded a spate of soft turnovers inside the opening five minutes.

Glory skipper Jacob Burns was instrumental for the visitors, breaking Brisbane's momentum in the midfield on countless occasions and for the most part keeping Berisha frustrated and ineffectual, before the late drama.

There was plenty of feeling between the two sides throughout the entire contest - highlighted by a running battle between firebrands Berisha and Burns.

Brisbane 2 (Berisha 84, 90+4)
Perth 1 (Franjic OG 51)
Crowd: 50,334 at Suncorp Stadium

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