Brisbane Roar became the first team to win three Hyundai A-League championships after they defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers 2–1 in extra time at Suncorp Stadium today.
Brisbane Roar became the first team to win three Hyundai A-League championships after they defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 in extra time at Suncorp Stadium today.
It was Brisbane-s third grand final appearance in four years, and comeback specialists and Premiers Brisbane are also the first team to win the grand final after conceding an initial goal.
Brisbane-s two goals came in the second halves of regulation and extra time, providing heart-stopping action for the 51,153 fans in attendance.
Outgoing striker Besart Berisha sent the match to extra time after he cancelled out Matthew Spiranovic-s 56th-minute header with a header of his own in the 85th.
Substitute Henrique, nicknamed the ‘Slippery Fish-, shook off his defence and secured the win in the second half of extra time, taking a touch from substitute James Donachie-s lay-off before burying the ball in the back of the net.
There was little to split the teams throughout the match, as both teams shared the possession and goal-scoring chances.
Western Sydney settled first, with Brisbane-s defence called in to action for the main part of the first 10 minutes, before they worked their way into the game.
Spiranovic proved the hero for Western Sydney at both ends of the park, first scoring the goal, and then denying Brisbane a certain equaliser when Broich found Berisha in behind.
Berisha brought the ball back on to his favoured right foot, but desperate defending by Spiranovic deflected the ball over the back line.
Broich twice went within millimetres of scoring in almost identical shots in the first and second halves that travelling agonisingly close to, but wide of, the upright.
In similarly narrow fashion, Ivan Franjic-s curling, long-range shot was denied by the crossbar. But it was centreback Spiranovic-s near-post glancing header that found the back of the net, giving the visitors the early lead.
Broich, Berisha, and Henrique combined to give Brisbane its best chances in the second half, with Broich picking out the two strikers with his pinpoint-accurate passes, only to have Western Sydney-s defence block them each time.
Broich was later named joint Man of the Match, co-awarded the Joe Marston medal with Iacopo La Rocca. The two each received 16 points in the votes. It was a result befitting the game, which couldn-t be split under its final minutes.
Western Sydney almost scored a second, match-sealing goal in the 85th minute, with Theo scrambling to prevent Youssouf Hersi-s shot crossing the line.
Brisbane found the back of the net just a minute later, when Lustica was awarded a free kick after he was brought down on the edge of the box and Berisha got on the end of Broich-s free-kick delivery.
Western Sydney captain and resolute defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley was subbed in the 62nd minute after sustaining a suspected knee injury after landing awkwardly, and Brisbane set to exploit that weakness.
The match went to extra time after neither team could find a second goal in the four minutes of added time - the third time in A-League grand final history that the match went to extra time.
Franjic chanced a shot in the second minute of extra time, looking to finalise the result. But he was off-balance as he took the strike and his shot sailed high and never troubled goalkeeper Ante Covic.
It was Donachie who provided the set-up for the second and match-winning goal, taking the ball out wide before laying it of to an unmarked Henrique who took a touch then thunked the ball past Covic-s right shoulder.
In the press conference afterwards, Coach Mike Mulvey said it-s in the club-s DNA to never give up.
“Why give up?” he said. “Until the final whistle, there-s always a chance.”
He credited Western Sydney—“They gave us one hell of a game today.”—and said seeing a full house at Suncorp Stadium and players achieving the club-s mutually agreed targets for the season was very special.
He said is privileged to coach Broich, the ‘architect', paying tribute to his humility and desire to continue improving as a footballer.
Henrique, Mulvey said, brings an incredible, game-changing vibrancy off the bench.
The championship win marks goalkeeper Michael Theo-s fifth A-League grand final and his third winning with Brisbane Roar (the previous two were with Melbourne Victory).
With their season-s results, Brisbane will now contest the AFC Champions League in addition to defending their title in the 2014/15 season.
Hyundai A-League Grand Final Brisbane Roar 2 (Besart BERISHA 86', HENRIQUE 108' Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Matthew SPIRANOVIC 56') Sunday, 4 May 2014 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Kick-off: 4pm Referee: Peter Green
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEO (GK), 2. Matthew SMITH (C), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 7. Besart BERISHA, 11. Liam MILLER (8. Steven LUSTICA 74-), 13. Jade NORTH, 17. Matthew McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN (15. James DONACHIE 90-+1), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS (10. Henrique 69-)
Substitutes not used: 16. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 20. Matthew ACTON
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante COVIC (GK), 3. Adam D-Apuzzo, 3. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (C) (10. Aaron MOOY, 66-), 6. Jerome POLENZ, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 11. Brendan SANTALAB (9. Tomi JURIC 73-), 13. Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17. Youssouf HERSI, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Shinji ONO (7. Labinot HALITI, 83-)
Substitutes not used: 2. Shannon COLE, 20. Jerrad TYSON (GK)
Yellow cards: Brendan SANTALAB (25-), Adam D-APUZZO (39-), Youssouf HERSI (59-), Mateo POLJAK (102-), Jerome POLENZ (105-), Aaron MOOY (115-)
Red cards: Nil