Brisbane Roar had a point to prove and did it with heart in a courageous 3-2 win over Premiers Plate contenders Adelaide United in Round 25 of the Hyundai A-League at Coopers Stadium today.
After a midweek marathon hike to South Korea for the AFC Champions League, the Roar put any perceived fatigue to the side to pick up where they had left off in the 6-1 demolition of Central Coast Mariners in the previous round.
The Roar led 2-0, and went 3-0 ahead after 54 minutes, then weathered sustained pressure as the Reds attempted to turn around the surprise attack by the well-travelled visitors.
But Brisbane proved yet again they can rise above adversity and will not give up their Championship defence without a fight.
Roar captain Matt McKay praised his gutsy team.
"I am very happy with that performance . . . we all know what the travel is all about in the Champions League but everyone in our team was very professional in how we approached the game and it's a good three points for us," McKay said.
McKay said the seventh-placed Roar's aim was to catch sixth-placed Melbourne City with three matches to play, including a Wednesday-Saturday night double header against Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium this week.
"If we can get into the finals, anything can happen," he said.
Roar coach Frans Thijssen also praised the fight within his team.
"We made it a little difficult for ourselves in the second half . . . but I'm quite happy with the win here,'' he said.
Roar went into the game amid statistics that reflected the high success rate (43 per cent) the team enjoys when international marquee Thomas Broich is in the side.
So it was no surprise that Broich, who played just 45 minutes against the Mariners, engineered Brisbane's first goal in the 26th minute when he turned a pass through a flat Adelaide defence to release Andrija Kaluderovic.
The Serbian international seized on the opportunity and clinically slotted the ball into the right-hand corner for his fifth goal in just eight Hyundai A-League games.
It was Broich's eighth assist in as many games.
Four minutes later Broich netted himself when he pounced on a pass by Brandon Borrello that again exposed a flat Adelaide defence. The German put his shot in the net but was ruled offside in a hairline decision.
Broich was involved in the Roar's second even though it was ruled an own goal by Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic.
The German lobbed a tantalising ball just outside the box that drew Galekovic who skied his clearance. Striker Jean Carlos Solorzano challenged for the header but in a desperate attempt to clear, Galekovic punched the ball into his own net.
Brisbane's third goal came from an unlikely source, right back Jack Hingert – his first goal in 86 Hyundai A-League games.
But it proved simple as he played a 1-2 with Borrello on the edge of the box and powered a low shot into the Adelaide goal.
Adelaide pressured hard to get back into the game and finally got on the score sheet in the 71st minute.
Good work down the right by Isais and Sergio Cirio saw the Spaniard swing a delightful ball across the Roar goalmouth that found Craig Goodwin unmarked on the left and he easily slotted into the net.
The gutsy Roar continued to fight as the minutes ticked down with players across the park throwing their bodies on the line to protect the valuable three points.
Defender Daniel Bowles was among them and was shown a red card as he desperately tried to stop Adelaide's Nigel Boogaard scoring from what was later shown to be an offside position.
Half-time substitute Pablo Sanchez netted the penalty, but the clock ran out for the home side.
After flying out of Brisbane late on Easter Sunday night, the Roar finally return home late tomorrow with another valuable three points in their keeping and their Championship defence still very much alive.
Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 25
Saturday, 11 April at Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 2 (Craig GOODWIN 71', Pablo SANCHEZ 90+4' pen.)
Brisbane Roar 3 (ANDRIJA Kaluderovic 26', own goal 40', Jack HINGERT 54')
Referee: Stebre Delovski
Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE (7.Pablo SÁNCHEZ 46'), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 11.Bruce DJITE, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA (24.Bruce KAMAU 46'), 21.Tarek ELRICH.
Substitutes not used: 5.Osama MALIK, 14.Cameron WATSON, 30. John HALL (gk)
Yellow cards: Sergio CIRIO 35', Michael MARRONE 44', Jimmy JEGGO 84'
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar: 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 5. Corey BROWN, 9. ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (16. Devante CLUT, 81'), 14. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Matt McKAY, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 22. Thomas BROICH (8. Steven LUSTICA 65'), 28. Brandon BORRELLO (23. Dimitri PETRATOS 65'), 33. Luke DeVERE.
Substitutes not used: 26. Lachlan JACKSON, 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)
Yellow cards: Brandon BORRELLO 60', Corey BROWN 76', Luke BRATTAN 89'
Red cards: Daniel BOWLES 90+3'