Brisbane Roar have given themselves a fantastic opportunity to host their second straight Hyundai A-League Grand Final as Ange Postecoglou’s men dominated the first leg of the major semi-final to beat premiers Central Coast Mariners 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane Roar have given themselves a fantastic opportunity to host their second straight Hyundai A-League Grand Final as Ange Postecoglou-s men dominated the first leg of the major semi-final to beat premiers Central Coast Mariners 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in the Queensland capital and football fans welcomed the bright skies - more than 15,000 spectators filled the seats of Suncorp Stadium to hand Brisbane Roar one of their biggest crowd of the 2011/12 season.
The vocal supporters endured a chaotic start to the game, with their emotions on a rollercoaster before eight minutes were even played on the clock.
As Henrique spotted the run of Thomas Broich-s deft through ball, he was bundled over in the penalty area by Central Coast defender Joshua Rose leaving experienced referee Strebre Delovski with little choice but to award a spot-kick to the home side.
The Brazilian-s penalty was tamed easily by in-form Mariners shotstopper Mat Ryan, much to the disbelief of the Suncorp Stadium faithful who were confident they would be celebrating their fifth goal against their Graham Arnold-s men this season.
But the scoreboard wasn-t locked at 0-0 for much longer as Henrique making amends for his dead ball miss just 40 seconds later.
Broich delivered a pinpoint corner from the right and captain Matt Smith headed the ball into the path of the zippy winger who slotted home from close range.
Only the diving heroics of Ryan denied Brisbane further goals in the first 45 minute period with Ivan Franjic and Besart Berisha each troubling the opposition defence with on-target attempts.
The Roar had to share more of the possession as the second half began as the Mariners began brightly with the contribution of either goalkeeper continuing to prove vital as Michael Theoklitos denied Coast youngster Tommy Rogic-s header from point-blank range.
Close to the 70 minute mark, Broich delivered an impressive overhead cross to the oncoming Berisha who again struggled to get his potent strike past Ryan before Erik Paartalu found the back of the net - albeit second time lucky - with a thunderous strike in the 86th minute.
His first effort four minutes earlier rattled the crossbar before some dazzling footwork from Broich inside the area teed up his fellow midfielder for a memorable goal, sealing a crucial result ahead of the second leg in Gosford next Sunday.
Post-match, goal-scorer Erik Paartalu was keen to shift the accolades of his 86th minute strike to the teammate who set him up.
“I hit it too well I think, the first one,” Paartalu said.
“I was a bit disappointed because it was probably an easier one to score but I was delighted when the second one hit the back of the net.
“(Thomas) is just so good at delaying and keeping the ball under pressure - he made the space for me and opened it up for me to run into the space.
“He played a perfect pass and I just hit it so it was pretty much down to him.”
Brisbane Roar 2 (HENRIQUE 8-, Erik PAARTALU 86-) Central Coast Mariners 0 Saturday, 31 March 2012 Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Referee: Strebre Delovski Crowd: 15, 081
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 (18. Luke BRATTAN 62-), 10. HENRIQUE (24. Nick FITZGERALD 62-), 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 22. Thomas BROICH
Substitutes not used: 4. Matt JURMAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: HENRRIQUE 8-, Matt SMITH 37-
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew RYAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Bernie IBINI (12. Troy HEARFIELD 76-), 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 17. Tomas ROGIC (2. Daniel McBREEN 67-), 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 22. Mustafa AMINI (23. Adam KWASNIK 83-)
Substitutes not used: 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 20. Justin PASFIELD (gk),
Yellow cards: Josh ROSE 6-, Alex WILKINSON 23-, John HUTCHINSON 73-, Patrick ZWAANSWIJK 80-
Red cards: Nil