Roar leaves it late to grab more final glory
FOOTBALL: Brisbane Roar's trend of never scoring first in a grand final, before going on to win, continued in a stunning championship decider at Suncorp Stadium last night.
The hosts came back from the dead, scoring in the 85th minute, before Henrique's winner in extra time, to seal the title in an epic contest, 2-1 against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Henrique smashed the ball home in the eighth minute of the second-half of extra time, following a neat cross from James Donachie.
Earlier, it was the Wanderers who hit the front through brilliant defender Matthew Spiranovic, getting on the outside of Thomas Broich, to knock the ball past Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo in the 56th minute.
But the Roar sent the crowd of more than 51,000 into raptures when Besart Berisha equalised in the 85th minute, heading the ball home courtesy of an outstanding free-kick from Broich.
The Wanderers had dominated the game until Spiranovic's goal, before the hosts gradually crept back into the contest.
Berisha could have levelled in the 69th minute, but sent his free header wide.
The Roar kept coming and a Broich shot went just wide three minutes later, before Berisha's late and dramatic equaliser.
Earlier, the game came to life late in the second half, after both sides understandably looked nervous to start the game in front of an electric atmosphere.
In a thrilling final 10 minutes of the first stanza, the Wanderers' Mateo Poljak was the first to threaten for a goal, with his 30m shot on target in the 37th minute.
The Roar's left midfielder Matt McKay had an opportunity to score five minutes later, with a loose ball in the box, but Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic was the first one to the mad scramble.
The Wanderers then looked a chance to score after a good Iacopo La Rocca ball found Brendon Santalab in the box.
But a poor first touch let the striker down.
The seesawing nature of the frantic finish to the first stanza continued moments later, after good vision and a cross-field run and pass from Broich, found Ivan Franjic in space.
The Roar right back's looping shot beat Covic, but hit the crossbar.
The Wanderers were the dominant first-half team, with A-League retiree Shinji Ono's fast feet continually beating the efforts of the Roar defenders.
Adam D'Apuzzo was a constant menace on the left flank, and Wanderers defenders Spiranovic and Nikolai Topor-Stanley did a fine job on Berisha.
The two combined brilliantly to give the Victory-bound striker little space and attacking opportunities, before the Albanian firebrand had the last laugh.