Roar stage another epic finals comeback, defeat Victory
Brisbane Roar have knocked out reigning champions Melbourne Victory with a 2-1 triumph in a dramatic contest at Suncorp Stadium to open the finals series.
It was a frantic finale as all three goals came in the dying moments of the game with Besart Berisha scoring against his former team in the 86th minute. Brisbane hit back instantly through Matt McKay, while Thomas Broich secured the Roar’s spot in the semi-finals with a strike in stoppage time.
After the two sides played out a nil all draw only six days ago in their final game of the regular season, Brisbane made no alterations to their starting eleven. Their only change came on the bench with Spanish midfielder Javi Hervas replacing Steven Lustica.
Melbourne Victory welcomed back six regular starters to the first eleven after Kevin Muscat opted for a more youthful line-up last week. The biggest inclusion for Victory was striker Besart Berisha who returned to the side after his two-week suspension was reduced to only one week. Barbarouses, Bozanic, Georgievski, Broxham and Delpierre were the others to be added to the starting side.
Melbourne Victory dominated the opening stages of the game after winning a handful of set pieces and they had their first shot on target in the 12th minute through Fahid Ben Khalfallah. The ball fell to the Ben Khalfallah inside the box and he lashed a shot at goal, but Jamie Young did well to get down and save the strike.
Kosta Barbarouses created another good opportunity for Victory in the 16th minute as he flicked the ball up and sent a volley towards the bottom corner, but again Young was there to palm the shot away.
Victory continued to hold Brisbane in their own half with a disciplined man-marking system and they had another great chance to score from a free-kick in the 27th minute through Oliver Bozanic. The set piece was taken from over 30 metres out from goal and while Bozanic’s effort was on target, it fell straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.
The teams went into half-time 0-0 with Brisbane struggling to get themselves into the game as Victory dominated majority of the play.
Besart Berisha surged forward in attack in the 58th minute and attempted a strike on goal from outside the goal area, but his effort sailed wide of the target.
Victory had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the 63rd minute after Barbarouses set up Ben Khalfallah with a superb cross, but the Tunisian amazingly missed the goal from point blank range.
The Roar began to work their way back into the game after the hour mark and recorded a handful of shots on goal. Thomas Broich came close in the 79th minute after he latched onto a Corona free-kick, but his header drifted wide of the goal.
A major flashpoint in the game came in the 83rd minute after Jason Geria was sent-off after collecting his second yellow card of the game. The Olyroo fullback collected Broich with a reckless talk, leaving Victory to play out the remainder of the game with 10 men.
Despite going down a man, Victory finally broke the deadlock in the 86th minute. A well-delivered corner from Barbarouses found an unmarked Berisha who fired the ball into the back of the net to give Melbourne Victory the lead.
Barely moments later, Brisbane equalized through captain Matt McKay. Dimi Petratos whipped in a dangerous low cross and McKay charged into the box to tap the ball home from close range, setting up a tense final period of the game.
Deep into stoppage, the Roar dramatically found a winning goal through Thomas Broich. Corona stepped up to deliver an in-swinging corner and Broich rose highest to head the ball past the goalkeeper to send Suncorp Stadium into raptures.
Referee Jared Gillet called full-time shortly after with the 2-1 result sending Brisbane to the semi-finals to face Adelaide United next Friday night.
The reigning champions Melbourne Victory, now eliminated from the competition, will now turn their full focus to the Asian Champions League, with their next match in China on Tuesday night.