Goals from Luke Brattan and Ivan Franjic helped Brisbane keep their title defence alive despite Dario Vidosic's strike making for some nervy moments late on
|By STEVE BARRETT
Brisbane Roar kept alive their hopes of winning an unprecedented third straight championship with a convincing 2-1 elimination final victory over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.
The Roar showcased why they have been a finals force in recent seasons by bossing the contest from the outset against a thoroughly outclassed Reds outfit, who failed to fire any meaningful shots until the very death when they suddenly came alive.
A magnificent Luke Brattan goal was just reward for the visitors' extended dominance before Ivan Franjic appeared to seal it moments before half-time.
Dario Vidosic struck at the death as United streamed forward regularly but the Roar held their nerve and deserved their victory.
Brisbane, who take on the Western Sydney Wanderers in Friday's semi-final, have stepped up at the right time of the year but their victory came at a cost with as many as three players sustaining injuries.
Captain Thomas Broich hurt his left Achilles, English-born defender Jack Hingert was stretchered off in the 65th minute after rolling his ankle and Brattan looked hurt when he came off.
The home side started nervously, with Osama Malik firing a shot five minutes in which, embarrassingly, almost cleared the top tier, while Marcelo Carrusca's wayward effort 10 minutes later was only marginally lower.
Less than a minute later, Bruce Djite - well held by Jade North - went on a promising solo run but he scuffed his effort.
United perked up momentarily and almost stole the lead in the 25th minute when a Vidosic curler wobbled out of Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo's hands and into the path of Jeronimo Neumann and Djite, who both did their best to scramble one in.
It was a rare dangerous Reds attack as the visitors, slick with their ball movement and clean with their execution, ran riot.
Broich always looked a threat on the dead ball as Brisbane racked up the first six corners of the contest, their efforts finally rewarded when Brattan scored a screamer in the 27th minute.
The masterful set-piece saw Broich find Brattan, wide open, and his volley from outside the area was too good for Eugene Galekovic.
The shot took a last-second ricochet of United defender Cassio, but was always on target and awarded to Brattan.
Brisbane continued to press and the pressure told with Jeronimo losing his cool and receiving a yellow card for showing dissent at referee Chris Beath.
Everything was going the Roar's way until Broich hobbled off after hurting himself while attempting to challenge Jeronimo, which saw the Brisbane skipper subbed off at half-time.
Against the flow, the Reds almost equalised in the 43rd minute when Vidosic went close from close range.
The Roar kept surging and were rewarded in the shadows of half-time when Franjic made it 2-0 when he beat Cassio and guided the ball into the corner from a flat Mitch Nichols cross.
With their season on the line, the hosts showed renewed life after the interval with the injection of Fabio Ferreira, who provided some energy and liveliness.
Two close calls went begging for Djite and Jeronimo early in the second half and another Jeronimo opportunity in the 58th minute was denied by some outstanding Roar defence.
Brattan had a chance to notch a brace when he beat Galekovic only to watch his effort roll across the face and centimetres wide of the post.
Galekovic did well to keep out a Stefan Nijland free-kick on 80 minutes, while Vidosic did his best to rally the Reds with some superb playmaking and a team-lifting goal in the 88th minute when he smashed one past Theo.
Tomi Juric's 90th-minute shot forced Theo into a desperate save as the Reds attacked with desperate intent in injury time, but it was too little, too late.