Brisbane bring lead back to Suncorp

Brisbane Roar have beaten the Central Coast Mariners 2-0 in the first leg of the Major Semi-Final.

An impressive Brisbane Roar has secured a 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners in the first leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi-Final at Bluetongue Stadium.

Two second half goals were enough to extend the club-s unbeaten run to 26 games and bring an important edge for the return leg at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Brisbane made a strong start to the contest, pressing the home side deep into their own half and moving the ball quickly.

Mitch Nichols had the contest-s first opportunity when a Shane Stefanutto cross bounced to him off a Central Coast defender, but he put his half-volley from the edge of the box over the bar.

Immediately up the other end Patricio Perez twisted and turned in the Roar box before chipping the ball to the back post but the angle was too tight for Matt Simon to get his header on target.

Pedj Bojic then chanced his arm from long-range with an absolute bullet from outside the box, but Michael Theoklitos was on his toes to beat the ball to safety.

The effort marked the start of a good period for the home side, with Brisbane-s defensive lines needing to keep their structure in order to keep the Mariners at bay.

Matt Ryan then needed to get his fingertips to a Kosta Barbarouses effort following another cross from the left by Stefanutto.

In what was expected from the contest, both sides were pushing forward at every opportunity, attempting to find holes in the respective defences.

With ten minutes left in the half Brisbane captain Matt McKay took it on himself to attempt to open the scoring, but having set himself from the edge of the box he hit his shot over the bar.

Again immediately down the other end the Mariners nearly took the lead.

Michael McGlinchey watched his effort take a deflection off Erik Paartalu and onto the post with Oliver Bozanic-s follow-up taking a deflection from a desperate Ivan Franjic to go out for a corner.

Franjic was in the action at the other end after some good movement from the Roar, but Ryan put enough pressure on the right back to stop him making clean contact from an inch-perfect Thomas Broich cross, allowing the Mariners to clear their lines.

Simon had the final effort of the half when he broke down the Brisbane left, but his shot was sliced well wide of the goal.

Brisbane got the perfect start to the second half, scoring on 52 minutes through diminutive striker Kosta Barbarouses.

The goal owed much to some outstanding pressure from McKay in the centre of the park, after dispossessing John Hutchinson the Brisbane captain put the Kiwi striker in on goal and he was clinical from the edge of the box.

The goal only turned up the intensity of the match as both sides continued their relentless attacking intent.

Just after the hour mark the Mariners came agonisingly close to drawing level with first Daniel McBreen and then Simon hitting the same post within seconds of each other.

However it was Brisbane who was next to score courtesy of their outstanding captain McKay.

The midfielder took possession of the ball on the edge of the box and patiently waited for Kosta Barbarouses to work free on the right before playing in the Kiwi international.

Barbarouses then floated a delightful ball back into the box for McKay, who had continued his run, who beat Ryan to the ball to head his side further in front.

Perez and Mustafa Amini did their best to bring the Mariners back into the contest, but both midfielders put their shots wide of Theoklitos- goal in the closing stages of the match.

Both teams had further opportunities from distance as the match drew to a close, however there were no goals added to the score line as the sides now turn their attention to the return leg in Brisbane on Saturday.

McKay said he was especially proud of the side as they dealt with the pressure of heading into the finals series as red-hot favourites for the title.

“Everyone-s putting a bit of pressure on us at the moment and we dealt with that,” McKay said.

“Central Coast are a very good side, they had their chances in the first half and they pinned us back a bit.

“But full credit to our boys, we worked very hard all game and two good goals in the second half to get us through.

“It-s great to come away from home and score two while conceding none.

“We need Brisbane to get out now and support us as we try and secure a home grand final.”

Central Coast Mariners 0 Brisbane Roar 2 (Kosta BARBAROUSES 52-, Matt McKAY 73-) Saturday, 19 February 2011 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Referee: Matthew Breeze

Central Coast Mariners: 2. Daniel McBREEN (23. Adam KWASNIK 64-), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON (8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS 67-), 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC (22. Mustafa AMINI 79-), 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk)

Substitutes not used: 17. Chris DOIG, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk)

Yellow cards: Patrick ZWAANSWIJK (66-), Pedj BOJIC (88-)

Red cards: Nil

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10. HENRIQUE (9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 66-), 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS (8. Massimo MURDOCCA 66-), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK

Substitutes not used: 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)

Yellow cards: HENRIQUE (54-)

Red cards: Nil