Brisbane Roar's four-game unbeaten streak on the road has ended following a 3-0 defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The defeat is the Roar's first on the road in almost three months and leaves it all to play for as a handful of clubs chase a finals berth in next weekend's final round.
The Roar had picked up 19 points from their last nine games heading into the contest after treating those matches like an extended finals series, and captain Matt McKay says Brisbane now need to regather ahead of a crucial clash in Round 27.
"To cop three goals in the first half is not what we wanted in a high-pressure game for both clubs. We let ourselves down a bit in a couple of areas and they capitalised," McKay said.
"We had a great run leading into the game, but we've played finals for the last nine weeks and we lost one tonight.
"We now have to go to Perth and get a result. As a team, we have to recover from this game and look ahead to next week."
The hosts opened the scoring inside the opening four minutes as loose defending from set-piece lead to an early goal for Oriel Riera, who only 11 minutes later bagged his second goal to put the Wanderers two goals to the good.
Chances were few and far between in the opening half for the Roar with a neat through ball from Massimo Maccarone leading to Brisbane's best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes through Fahid Ben Khalfallah, who shot straight at Vedran Janjetovic.
A second headed goal of the night extended the Wanderers' lead to three in the shadows of half-time as Chris Ikonimidis rose high in the area and finished emphatically.
Both sides managed to create chances and test the respective keepers at each end, with Brett Holman coming closest for the Roar during the second stanza.
Neither side were able to change the half-time scoreline, which sees Brisbane drop to seventh place on the ladder.
The Roar head into the final round, where they face Perth Glory at NIB Stadium next Saturday night (10pm KO), with an eight consecutive finals appearance on the line.
STORY OF THE GAME
- The Wanderers took a two-goal lead through Oriel Riera which grew to three late in the first half.
- Riera was denied a hat-trick early in the second half as Jack Hingert made a desperate goal-line clearance.
- Massimo Maccarone put the ball in the back of the net in the 81st minute but the goal was ruled out on review following an offside in the lead-up.
- Brisbane will now head into the final regular season round searching for a positive performance and a steely determination to be involved in finals football for an eighth consecutive season.
Western Sydney Wanderers - Riera 4' - 1-0
Marcelo Carrusca whips a free-kick towards the penalty spot which is met by Oriel Riera who heads home inside the right post.
Western Sydney Wanderers - Riera 15' - 2-0
Carrusca splits the defence to find Riera in the area, who is initially denied by a fine save from Jamie Young before tapping in from point-blank range.
Western Sydney Wanderers - Ikonimidis 40' - 3-0
Chris Ikonimidis rises highest in the area and attacks the ball with a strong header that flies into the back of the net.
Hyundai A-League Round 26: Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
Saturday, 7 April
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Riera 4', 15', Ikonimidis 40')
Brisbane Roar 0