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Extra-time winner seals Brisbane’s third title

BRIvWSWBrisbane Roar wrapped up a near-perfect season as A-League Champions for a record third time, with a 2-1 win in extra time over Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium.

Goals to the departing Besart Berisha and Henrique were enough to see them add the title to their Premiers Plate as Mike Mulvey’s men collected both domestic trophies in a dominant year for the side.

Despite injury concerns to Brisbane’s Dimitri Petratos and Liam Miller, and Western Sydney’s Mark Bridge – with the latter even omitted from the Wanderers’ squad on Thursday – all of them started as both sides named unchanged lineups.

Western Sydney controlled the ball in the early stages, not allowing the hosts to settle while threatening the Roar defence with a series of dead ball opportunities.

The Wanderers had claims for a penalty in the 15th minute when Mark Bridge’s pass struck Franjic’s arm in the box but referee Peter Green waved away the visitors’ appeals as they continued to dominate.

Match Details Full match details »

Brisbane

Goal86′ B.BerishaGoal108′ Henrique

Western Sydney

Yellow Card24′ B.SantalabYellow Card39′ A.D’ApuzzoGoal56′ M.SpiranovicYellow Card59′ Y.HersiYellow Card102′ M.PoljakYellow Card105′ J.PolenzYellow Card115′ A.Mooy

Brisbane’s first opportunity came to the feet of Berisha, who collected Stefanutto’s pass across goal but the Western Sydney defence was quick to close the striker down as he shaped to shoot.

The visitors had another scare in the 27th minute when Broich burst forward and weaved his way past Poljak before producing a long-range drive which fizzed just wide of the post.

The Wanderers pushed back and, after Poljak attempted an audacious strike from distance, La Rocca rolled a beautifully-weighted pass for Santalab, but a poor first touch pushed him wide and the opportunity was lost.

They were almost made to pay when Franjic’s deep cross in the 44th minute floated over Covic’s head and clipped the crossbar before Brattan curled a shot straight at the Western Sydney ‘keeper as the first half came to a close.

It was a far more open game after the break as Berisha weaved his way past two defenders in the 49th minute before his shot was deflected away for a corner. Franjic then went close from range as Brisbane continued to improve.

It did not take long for the Wanderers to press forward, however, and they found themselves ahead in the 55th minute when Spiranovic powerfully headed Ono’s corner kick past Theo at the near post.

Brisbane responded positively and Berisha had a great chance to level the match in the 67th minute when he was played in by a clever Broich pass, only for his effort to be deflected just wide.

Two minutes later, and the Albanian had another opportunity when he was found unmarked from a Broich free-kick, but he headed inexplicably wide.

Keen to turn their dominance into a goal, Mike Mulvey brought on Henrique and Lustica for Petratos and Miller, and it almost paid immediate dividends when Broich’s cut-back found Henrique in the box yet the Brazilian blazed over.

Brisbane continued to press forward but when Franjic’s shot was turned away by Covic, and Smith’s attempt from the resultant corner was unintentionally blocked by Henrique, it looked like it wouldn’t be their day.

And the visitors went close to settling the match in the 84th minute as Hersi collected a deflected Juric ball in the six-yard box but was immediately closed down by a desperate Brisbane defence.

It proved significant as the Roar equalised a minute later, once again thanks to the combination of Broich and Berisha. The German floated an inviting free-kick into the box and an unmarked Berisha climbed above the Wanderers’ defence to send the match to extra time.

The first half of extra time was a back-and-forth affair, with Theo forced into several saves, while Berisha and La Rocca were at the centre of a heated argument after an off-the-ball incident flattened the Albanian.

The match was settled three minutes into the second half of extra time when Henrique nodded on a Stefanutto cross to Donachie at the top of the box. The youngster eventually cut the ball back to the Brazilian who, after settling, blasted home to give Brisbane the win and their third A-League Championship.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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