|By DANIEL COLASIMONE
Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey says his players deserve all the credit for securing a 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium, after an exhausting week which included a return trip to Thailand.
Following last Sunday's A-League loss to Sydney FC, the Roar flew to Thailand to take on Buriram United in a failed attempt to qualify for the AFC Champions League, before returning to Brisbane for Sunday's clash against Wellington.
A classy team goal completed by Steven Lustica, and a clinical Besart Berisha finish secured all three points for the Roar, in a week that also saw Mulvey re-appointed as coach for the next two seasons.
"I can't speak highly enough of the effort that the boys put in today because it was very tough," Mulvey told reporters after the match.
"We had bodies that were sore, but they toughed it out and I was very pleased with their effort."
With regards to managing his squad's resources over a hectic week, Mulvey said players were selected based on condition as well as form.
"The result was really important today," Mulvey said.
"So if we'd have gone in with, for example, Stefan [Nijland] and Mitch [Nichols] in the starting XI, we just needed to freshen up, so we're not exactly where I'd like to be from a physical perspective, we took a few heavy knocks again tonight, but the lads are very resilient and they'll bounce back.
"The fans that turned up today, they enjoyed the fact that we scored goals and won the game.
"And I think they appreciate as well that we had players that were running on empty."
The match saw Luke Brattan return to his best form after poor showings against Sydney FC and Buriram.
The 22-year-old orchestrated Brisbane's build-up play from the base of midfield and set up Berisha's goal, and Mulvey acknowledged that his contributions would be critical if the Roar were to make the finals.
"Luke is somebody who has stood in the shadows for the past three seasons, he's played spasmodically here and there," Mulvey said.
"In 12 months' time, he'll be a player in the A-League to really be reckoned with, with a little bit more maturity.
"What he's lacking at the moment is match fitness because he had about five weeks out and he's had a couple of setbacks this year.
"But you've seen his qualities. He can pass the ball and he's a very intelligent player, and he can get forward as well.
"He's learning the role of screening the back four a bit better and he's making sure that his game is becoming more rounded.
"So he's definitely a key player for us."