Goals to Steven Lustica and Besart Berisha have kept Brisbane in with a real shot of making the finals through a 2-0 win over Wellington at Suncorp Stadium
|By DAN COLASIMONE
Mike Mulvey celebrated his re-appointment as Brisbane Roar coach for the next two years with a convincing 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The bottom-of-the-table encounter was billed as a must-win for both sides, and it was the Roar who ensured they still have a realistic chance of making the A-League finals by earning all three points.
Brisbane's fabulous team goal, finished by Steven Lustica, lit up an otherwise hard-fought first half, while Besart Berisha's 12th goal of the campaign early in the second period sealed the win for the home side.
The Roar had near total possession early, but it was Wellington new boy Corey Gameiro who put the ball in the back of the net after eight minutes, although he was deemed to have held back defender Jade North in the lead up and the goal was chalked off.
Ben Halloran then had a one-on-one chance down the other end for Brisbane after being played through the middle by Berisha, but his shot was easily saved when he dallied too long on the ball.
A strong Gameiro effort from distance after 25 minutes forced Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo to make a fingertip save low and to his right.
After seeming to lack conviction for the opening half hour, the Roar all of a sudden put together a dazzling move to open the scoring through Lustica.
In a series of rapid passes, Halloran fed Thomas Broich on the left, and the German's smart ball to an overlapping Shane Stefanutto allowed him to send in a pinpoint cross for Lustica to slot home.
Two minutes later, Theo was again called on to make a diving save, as Louis Fenton's rasping shot almost found the corner of the net allowing Brisbane to go into half-time with a 1-0 lead after edging the tactical midfield battle in the opening stanza.
Just after the break the Roar doubled their advantage when Luke Brattan intercepted a Daniel Sanchez pass and played through Berisha.
And, the Albanian striker showed all his goalscoring nous to finish with power and accuracy past Glen Moss in the Phoenix goal.
Brisbane's star midfielder Broich almost scored a wonder goal just after the hour mark as he allowed a throw-in to bounce across his body before firing a stinging shot just over the cross bar.
Wellington had two great chances to halve the deficit within two minutes, as first North blocked a goal-bound Stein Huysegems effort before Tyler Boyd missed hit the target with a free header at the back post.
As the Phoenix pushed forward in the closing stages, they left open spaces at the back for Brisbane to exploit.
Moss left his goal area to stifle a dangerous Roar counter-attack with 10 minutes to go, but substitute Craig Brown and Berisha were unable to combine to plant the ball in the open net.
Brisbane move to equal seventh in the table with Melbourne Heart after this win, two points behind Newcastle in sixth spot, while Wellington remain bottom of the ladder.