Brisbane Roar will be looking to secure three points in their Easter blockbuster with Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium next weekend to stay on track for a Hyundai A-League home finals match.
A 10-man Roar lost 3-1 to fellow pacesetters Melbourne City in their Round 24 clash, but with three rounds to play and the top of the table tightly packed, John Aloisi's side is still very much on track to contest the silverware this season.
The Roar led Melbourne City for 32 minutes thanks to a superb outside-of-the-box volley from Dimitri Petratos which will surely be a contender for goal of the season.
But the match was turned on its head when City's Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli cleverly turned Roar fullback Jack Hingert and drew a foul for a penalty in the 53rd minute.
It was Hingert's second yellow card, after being cautioned in the dying seconds of the first half for a tackle on the same player and referee Kris Griffiths-Jones had no choice but to show the red.
The Roar reshuffled with central defender Daniel Bowles going to right back and substitute Shane Stefanutto brought on as a central defender.
And as bravely as Brisbane defended, the one-man advantage was too much as the home side threw players forward and were rewarded with two more goals to seal the three points.
22': A Corona corner is cleared by City defender Alex Wilkinson but it falls to Dimitri Petratos about 20m out. He brilliantly controls then hits a left-foot volley with such speed it is in the back of the net before City keeper Thomas Sorensen can react. 1-0
54': City striker Bruno Fornaroli turns Jack Hingert who then attempts to claw him back. It's a second yellow for the Roar fullback and a penalty for the home side. City's Socceroo Aaron Mooy buries his spot kick to the right of Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young. 1-1
81': With a 10-man Roar under a lot of pressure, City substitute Anthony Caceres rises at the far post to head in an Ivan Franjic cross for his first Hyundai A-League goal. 1-2
84': Man of the match Bruno Fornaroli takes a freekick from a central position just outside the box and rattles the right-hand upright with an impressive curling effort. Former Roar player Nick Fitzgerald darts in to head home the rebound and seal the three points. 1-3
For Roar fans, the talking point now is what is required to ensure we finish top four or higher and get a home finals game. The equation is simple - three games, three wins and the table will look after itself.
Brisbane Roar Head Coach JOHN ALOISI: "The send off was definitely the turning point. Before that we were very comfortable. I don't think they were creating too much . . . they weren't causing us too many issues . A little bit of brilliance from Fornaroli, they get penalty, a red card, it changes the game.
"From there we just have to try and defend. We did it well but it wasn't enough.
"In terms of our structures before that, they weren't causing us any issues."
Roar captain MATT McKAY: "Up until (the send off) we were containing them OK. Defensively we were quite good. I am sure we will meet them in the finals . . . it (the loss) is not going to bother us, we will keep going the way we have been going, keep positive and put that behind us.
"We've got three games to win and finish as high up the ladder as we can."
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Hyundai A-League Round 24, Melbourne City FC v Brisbane Roar FC, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Friday, 18 March 2016
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Petratos 22')
Melbourne City FC 3 (Mooy pen. 54'. Caceres 81', Fitzgerald 84')
Brisbane Roar FC: 5.Corey BROWN, 7.CORONA (24.Tommy OAR 86'), 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH (3.Shane STEFANUTTO 57'), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO (10.HENRIQUE 70').
Unused substitutes: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 8.Steven LUSTICA.
Yellow cards: Jade NORTH 27', Jack HINGERT 45', Daniel BOWLES 58'
Red cards: Jack HINGERT (second yellow) 53'
Melbourne City FC: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk) 2.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Aaron MOOY, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 11.Michael ZULLO ( 29.Anthony CACERES 74'), 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO, 27.Nick FITZGERALD, 33.Osama MALIK
Unused substitutes: 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 20, Dean Bouzanis (gk), 25. Jacob MELLING, 26. Marc MARINO.
Yellow cards: Harry NOVILLO 25', Ivan FRANJIC 33'
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones; Assistant Referee 1: Luke Brennan; Assistant Referee 2: Wilson Brown; Fourth Official: Shaun Evans