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A-League

  • 4 May 2014
  • • 16:00
  • • Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Referee: P. Green
  • • Attendance: 51153
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Brisbane Roar 2-1 Western Sydney: Henrique dispatches Wanderers in extra-time

Mike Mulvey's men came from behind to force an additional 30 minutes before sealing a third title triumph in four years

Drama seems to be par for the course when it comes to A-League Grand Finals at Suncorp Stadium, and the latest instalment continued the tradition, with Brazilian forward Henrique smashing in a goal in extra-time to give the Brisbane Roar a 2-1 comeback win over the Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Roar have now won three out of the last four A-League titles to stake a strong claim to be the finest side in the short history of the competition.

The Wanderers, meanwhile, have reached two Grand Finals in the two-year life of the club, only to lose them both.

A tight contest was generally expected in the build up to the match, and the two teams delivered.

A tense opening half was followed by a more flowing second term, with the Wanderers' captain Matthew Spiranovic finding the net after 56 minutes only for the Roar to find an equaliser through Besart Berisha who, in his last game for the club, scored from a Thomas Broich assist.

It was the visitors who settled into the game sooner, but Brisbane dealt comfortably with a series of early Western Sydney corners and free kicks delivered into the box.

Jerome Polenz galloped into space down the right after 22 minutes, then sent a dangerous cross in for Brendon Santalab, who could not quite stretch far enough to turn it in.

The first genuine chance of the half came in the 27th minute, when Broich received the ball with his back to goal, turned, and fired a stinging low shot just wide of the upright.

The Wanderers came very close to breaking the deadlock just before the break when Iacopo La Rocca cut a ball back inside the area which just failed to find the feet of a lurking Youssouf Hersi.

It was Brisbane who finished the half the stronger, however, with Ivan Franjic thumping the woodwork with what appeared to be a cross from wide on the right, and Luke Brattan trying a shot from a tight angle on the left that was gathered by Ante Covic.

The Wanderers once again came out of the blocks quicker in the second term, with Hersi and Shinji Ono combining well in the Brisbane area only for the defence to scramble the ball clear.

Chances also fell to Berisha and Franjic as the game opened up.

It was the Wanderers who broke through with the opening goal from a set piece four minutes before the hour mark when Spiranovic lost Broich, his marker, to angle home Ono's corner with a powerful header.

Six minutes later, Western Sydney lost their captain to injury, as Nikolai Topor-Stanley twisted his knee when making a desperate challenge on Berisha.

Brisbane stormed forward following the goal, with Broich in particular threatening to unlock the Wanderers' defence.

A sublime through ball from the German found Berisha in the box, and the striker weaved inside before firing an effort on target, only to be denied by a heroic lunge from Spiranovic which deflected the shot wide.

A free kick from Broich again found the Albanian, but his header was well off target from close range.

Broich then came close himself from distance, before substitute Henrique was off balance when he scooped a shot over the bar from inside the box.

Another visionary pass from Broich landed at the feet of Franjic on the right of the Wanderers' box, and the defender cut inside and blasted a shot towards the near post which Covic palmed away brilliantly.

Hersi nearly doubled the Wanderers' advantage but was unable to scramble in a Tomi Juric cross, and the visitors would be left to rue the miss two minutes later.

Broich and Berisha finally got their combination right with four minutes of regular time remaining, the forward slipping between two defenders to head in the German's curled free kick.

There was time for chances at both ends before the 90 minutes was up, but nobody could break the deadlock and the match went to extra time.

Tired legs ensured there were plenty of gaps for attacking players to exploit once extra-time got underway, with Franjic and Hersi getting away attempts on goal at either end.

It was then Haliti's turn to try his luck. The substitute flew down the left, jinked inside Jade North and sent a firm shot at Theo, who was able to parry.

The Roar were dictating play overall as extra-time wore on, and Henrique eventually broke through with the decisive goal after 108 minutes.

The Brazilian was loitering near the penalty spot when a low pass from the right found him somehow alone in a crowded area, and he blasted the ball into the centre of the net to sound the crowd into raptures.

Brisbane Roar 2 (Berisha 86', Henrique 108')
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Spiranovic 56')

Crowd: 51, 153 @Suncorp Stadium

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