A freakish stoppage time winner engineered by Thomas Broich allowed Brisbane Roar to escape with a lucky 2-1 win against an embattled Newcastle Jets in their Hyundai A-League match at Hunter Stadium tonight.
Broich appeared to mishit his free kick from outside the penalty box on the left but his low shot somehow weaved through a sea of Newcastle and Roar players in the penalty box and was deflected inside the far post by Jets substitute Allan Welch, who remarkably had been on the field just 14 seconds.
Roar captain Matt McKay conceded Roar were not at their best, possibly because of the short turnaround after Monday night's dramatic 3-2 win over Wellington.
“We were a bit flat tonight. Three points is great . . . but we want performance first,'' he said.
Roar interim coach Frans Thijssen agreed his side was lucky and could easily have lost.
“If you ask me did we deserve it (the three points), I'd say no,” Thijssen said.
But there were positives.
The win took Brisbane within a point of the top six, although they were the first game of the Play Football round.
The victory was Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo's 100th win in the Hyundai A-League while striker Jean Carlos Solorzano continued his hot goal-scoring form.
The Costa Rican put the Roar ahead in the 35th minute with a clever flick into the goal from inside the six-yard box off a Broich corner - the 50th assist by the two-time Johnny Warren medalist since he joined the club five years ago.
The Roar held the lead for the next 37 minutes before a defensive lapse on the left allowed Jets substitute Radovan Pavicevic to get into the box, and although his first attempt was blocked, he maintained his composure to put away his second shot.
The Jets then had several chances to steal the win themselves but good goalkeeping and more luck saved the Roar.
Few saw the Jets' spirited performance coming and it caught the Roar by surprise.
Despite a week of turmoil in Newcastle, the home side stunned the highly-fancied visitors when they nearly scored just two minutes after the kick off.
Jets' Ecuadorian striker Edson Montano pounced onto a blocked shot but put his header onto the crossbar from close range.
The early scare failed to spark the Roar into action and although they dominated possession – more than 200 passes in the first 30 minutes – too many attacks broke down and Jets keeper Ben Kennedy was rarely called into action.
But Theo more than atoned for his howler last Monday against Wellington when he made a brilliant save in the 42nd minute to preserve the Roar's lead.
Newcastle striker Mitch Cooper got behind Roar left fullback Corey Brown and fired a low shot to the far side of the goal but Theo raced off his line and cleared with his legs.
The Roar started the second half far more positively than the first and winger Brandon Borrello nearly increased the lead when his powerful shot to the bottom left-hand corner of the goal was well saved by Kennedy.
Theo continued his impressive display in the 54th minute when he dived to his left to parry away a close-range header from Cooper.
Two minutes later Borrello was in the action again when he ran onto a Broich through ball and although the youngster got a firm shot away, he was denied again by a fast-reacting Kennedy who pushed the attempt wide.
The equaliser set the Roar back on their heels and the Jets nearly scored when a Daniel Mullen attempt went narrowly over the crossbar while shots from Zenon Caravella and Montano were blocked.
But as the Jets became desperate, the yellow cards flew – three Newcastle players were booked in the last five minutes – and it was one of those fouls that gave Broich the “get out of jail”opportunity.
Newcastle Jets 1 (Radovan PAVICEVIC 72')
Brisbane Roar 2 (Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 35', OG Allan Welsh 90+3')
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Referee: Chris Beath
Newcastle Jets: 2.Scott NEVILLE (18.Allan WELSH 90+2'), 3.Taylor REGAN (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 8.Zenon CARAVELLA, 11.Andrew HOOLE (22.Lee KI-JE 89'), 12.Sam GALLAGHER, 13.Edson MONTANO, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 19.Mitch COOPER (27.Radovan PAVICEVIC 55'), 20.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 21.Daniel MULLEN,
Substitutes not used: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk), 10.Travis COOPER.
Yellow cards: Andrew HOOLE 37', Ben KANTAROVSKI 89', Radovan PAVICEVIC 90', Scott NEVILLE 90+2'.
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar FC: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 2.Jerome POLENZ, 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA (8.Steven LUSTICA 79'), 5.Corey BROWN (13.Jade NORTH 76'), 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Luke BRATTAN, 22.Thomas BROICH, 28.Brandon BORRELLO
Substitutes not used: 14.Daniel BOWLES, 20.Kofi DANNING, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk).
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil