A spectacular hat-trick by midfielder Steven Lustica has led Brisbane Roar to a stunning 6-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in the Hyundai A-League at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
The emphatic result, after four consecutive losses, keeps the Roar’s hopes alive of defending their crown as Australian Champions.
Roar’s Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic opened the scoring in the 20th minute but Lustica then all-but sealed the result with a pair of powerful strikes from outside the penalty area to give Brisbane a three-goal lead at half-time.
Substitute Devante Clut, youngster Brandon Borrello and Lustica’s third of the night rounded out the 6-1 score line in the first match of the Hyundai A-League’s Round 24.
Frans Thijssen said Lustica brought something different to the team and was a valuable squad member as the seventh-placed Champions look to grab maximum points in their final four games and knock Melbourne City out of the top six for the Finals Series.
"He's a technical player and a good player and I am very happy for him that he got three goals," Thijssen said.
With heavy rainfall over Brisbane during the day, both teams took their time to adapt to the slick surface with few early chances failing to foreshadow the action ahead.
After Lustica fired the hosts’ first effort into the clutches of Liam Reddy, Kaluderovic assumed the attacking onus with a pair of shots on goal.
The Roar’s momentum was building and they were rewarded with an opener in the 21st minute when Thomas Broich – back in the starting eleven for the first time in four matches - lifted a pass over the top for Kaluderovic, who outpaced his markers, held off Zac Anderson and rolled a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Lustica extended Brisbane’s advantage in fine fashion just seven minutes later, driving home Broich’s short corner from outside the area to make it 2-0.
The reigning Champions had hit top form by this stage and none more emphatically than Lustica who converted another stunning strike from outside the penalty box.
The onslaught continued immediately after the restart thanks to substitute Clut, who replaced Broich at half time and profited in the 48th minute from Jean Carlos Solorzano’s inspired left-side run.
Two minutes later it was 5-0. Lustica turned provider on this occasion to pick out Brandon Borrello for a powerful finish from close-range.
The Mariners finally began to stem the tide and at the other end found a consolation of their own when Travis Major’s cross evaded Nick Fitzgerald but not Daniel Bowles as the ball came off the Roar defender and into his own net.
Kaluderovic soon came close to a well-earned second but settled for assisting Lustica on his hat-trick, the 23-year-old tucking away after a dazzling lead-up play from Dimitri Petratos.
Thijssen conceded he now had a pleasant selection dilemma in midfield as the Roar prepares to head to South Korea on Sunday to play Suwon Samsung FC in Match Day Four of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
"If somebody shows himself that is important for him and the club and the team and gives me an extra choice to that's positive," Thijssen said
"If he (Lustica) scored three goals as a midfield player he can be happy."
Thijssen said the score showed the Roar would be a threat if they can get into the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.
"I'm happy with the win and with the goals. It was special, good for the confidence for the players and for the strikers it is always important to score goals," he said.
"We know we have a good team. If everyone is here we can beat anybody and that is clear for everybody (to see)
Mariners Head Coach Tony Walmsley was full of praise for the Roar after the match.
"The honest truth is Brisbane were fantastic tonight," Walmsley said.
"I can only reflect on a superior performance from Brisbane, more power, numbers around the ball quicker than we did. All the things that we had intentions to do we were outdone by a better footballing team."
Brisbane Roar 6 (ANDRIJA Kaluderovic 21’, Steven LUSTICA 28’, 41’, 79’, Devante CLUT 48’, Brandon BORRELLO 50’)
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Own goal 64’)
Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 24
Thursday, 2 April at Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Kazuyoshi Enomoto
Brisbane Roar: 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 8. Steven LUSTICA, 9. ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13. Jade NORTH (5. Corey BROWN 54’), 14. Daniel BOWLES, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH (16. Devante CLUT 46’), 28. Brandon BORRELLO (23. Dimitri PETRATOS 65’)
Substitutes not used: 17. Matt McKAY, 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)
Yellow cards: 21. Jamie YOUNG 81’
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast Mariners: 3. Josh ROSE, 5. Zac ANDERSON (14. Travis MAJOR 40’), 7. John HUTCHINSON (c), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 10. Anthony CACERES, 11. Nick FITZGERALD (15. Mathew SIM), 12. Liam REDDY (gk), 23. Isaka CERNAK, 24. Hayden MORTON, 25. Eddy BOSNAR, 26. Fabio FERREIRA (16. Liam ROSE 59’)
Substitutes not used: 1. Matthew NASH (gk), 6. Brent GRIFFITHS
Yellow cards: 25. Eddy BOSNAR 19’, 7. John HUTCHINSON 28’, 24. Hayden MORTON 62’
Red cards: Nil