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A-League

  • 22 April 2012
  • • 16:00
  • • Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Referee: J. Gillett
  • • Attendance: 50334
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Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory: Berisha double wins it

A double to the confrontational Albanian was the difference, but the result may well be remembered for the contentious penalty he won that led to the game's decisive goal

Brisbane Roar have taken their second-consecutive A-League title  in the most dramatic of circumstances, with a controversial injury time penalty delivering a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Perth at Suncorp Stadium.

Glory led from the 51st minute to the 84th, before referee Jarred Gillett awarded the home side a penalty in the final seconds, when Besart Berisha appeared to have been taken down in the box.

Perth remonstrated furiously, immediately and ceaselessly, with replays showing negligible contact, if any.  But they were powerless to stop Berisha hammering home the spot kick to claim a brace and win the game.

Glory had been on the cusp of a historic win after taking the lead when a cross deflected off Ivan Franjic for an own goal in the 51st minute.

Billy Mehmet was the architect, splitting the Roar open with a scything run through the midfield before dishing to the right flank, where Travis Dodd skidded through a low cross that ricocheted off Franjic into the back of the net for an own goal.

Brisbane probed and pushed relentlessly in chase of their equaliser and in the end it was delivered through the most likely suspects, with A-League player of the year Thomas Broich sending in the perfect cross for golden boot winner Berisha to steer past a helpless Danny Vukovic.

Captain Jacob Burns was instrumental for the visitors, breaking Brisbane's momentum in the midfield on countless occasions and for the most part keeping Berisha frustrated and ineffectual.

Dean Heffernan left the visitors at 10 men for the final seconds, after hacking out Franjic's legs in injury time to collect his second yellow card, having earned his first for a harsh challenge on Broich in the first.

Tension at Suncorp Stadium grew exponentially through the contest, with the 50334-strong crowd weathering a cagey opening half-hour before the game opened up and the final 40 minutes were played with the Roar in hot pursuit.

Brisbane began to make inroads for the first time shortly before half-time, creating chances for Mitch Nichols and Berisha, before going within a finger tip of taking the lead in the 41st minute when Glory stopper Danny Vukovic made a diving save to thwart a drive from Franjic.

Perth's first scare came at the quarter-hour mark, with the A-League's all-time leading goal-scorer Shane Smeltz leveled and split from nose to lip after taking an elbow to the face in a bone-shaking collision with Roar skipper Matt Smith.

Three minutes of treatment later and with heavy strapping around the face, Smeltz was able to continue and the Glory fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Broich had been held relatively quiet in the first, but he gave a great display of his class in the 50th minute, jinking between multiple defenders and firing hard at goal, where Vukovic could only parry away.

Brisbane's experience was nowhere to be seen in a nervous start to the contest, exhibiting an uncharacteristic, long-passing game and conceding a spate of soft turnovers inside the opening five minutes.

There was plenty of feeling between the two sides throughout the entire contest - highlighted by a running battle between firebrands Berisha and Burns - but A-League referee of the year Gillett took control, handing Glory's Liam Miller the first card of the match in the 10th minute.

The late, late penalty was hardly the end of the drama, either, with Broich mistakenly awarded the Joe Marston Medal instead of Burns, and reports emerging on social media that Gillett's girlfriend was on the staff of Brisbane Roar.

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