Besart Berisha found the back of the net as the Brisbane Roar picked up all three points in a 2-1 victory over the Wellington Phoenix
|By DANIEL COLASIMONE
Brisbane's star attacking players provided the fireworks on New Year's Day as the Roar defeated Wellington Phoenix 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium.
Thomas Broich pulled the strings in the attacking third as Besart Berisha and Ben Halloran got on the score sheet either side of half time, while Wellington's Jeremy Brockie provided a moment of magic of his own with a wonderful first-half strike.
It was the first time this A-League season the Roar put together back-to-back victories and it earned them a place in the top six to start 2013.
The hosts looked to be controlling the match early on, though it was Wellington who almost went ahead after seven minutes after a mix up between centre-back Matt Smith and goalkeeper Michael Theo when dealing with a Tony Lochhead free kick. Louis Fenton's header looped harmlessly onto the roof of the net to save the goalkeeper's blushes.
The Roar were putting together some excellent passing sequences, with a majestic Broich at the centre of things, but Fenton's aerial dominance down the other end saw him come close with headers on a couple of occasions.
After 13 minutes, Broich showed his class, playing a pinpoint pass through the middle to set up Berisha. The striker was unable to get control of the ball effectively, however and the chance was lost for Brisbane.
A minute later the two combined again, only this time the result was the opening goal of the match. The German pounced on Manny Muscat to rob the ball and play it through to Berisha, who showed he hasn't lost his goal-scoring touch by dribbling past the last defender and stroking the ball into the net for a 1-0 Roar lead.
The Roar's fine work overall was undone on 37 minutes, as the lethal Brockie was afforded far too much space 25 metres from goal. The New Zealand striker made the most of the half-chance, launching a brilliant long-range shot into the top corner to pull Wellington level.
Brisbane produced the first real chance of the second period, with Berisha forcing a diving save from Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston after getting on the end of a Halloran cut-back.
A minute later and Wellington nearly took the lead through another piece of Brockie brilliance. The striker controlled a long ball with his chest, before volleying powerfully at goal. Theo was up to the task, however, with an acrobatic save.
The Roar regained the lead on 59 minutes, and once again Broich and Berisha were involved. The German fed Berisha in the box, who teed up Halloran. The winger made no mistake from close range to give Brisbane a deserved lead.
Wellington were a man down soon after, when Tyler Boyd picked up a second yellow for a dangerous sliding tackle on Shane Stefanutto.
After 76 minutes, Broich showed a rare moment of selfishness to smash a shot directly at Paston from a tight angle when a simple pass to Berisha in front of goal might have been the better option.
Roar defender James Donachie was given his marching orders with five minutes of regular time left, as Wellington pushed hard for an equaliser.
Brisbane maintained their composure to keep the Phoenix at bay, however, and continue their resurgence under coach Mike Mulvey.