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Stunning start to 2016-17 A-League finals

11:57 pm AEST 21/4/17
Corey Brown Luke DeVere Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers A-League 21042017
Brilliant goalkeeping, end-to-end football, a red card and a penalty shootout - Friday night's elimination final had just about everything


If Brisbane Roar's elimination final triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers is anything to go by the 2016-17 A-League post-season will be brilliant.

Roar made it a perfect 10 wins at home in A-League finals with yet another comeback as they recovered from a poor first half to overcome the Wanderers in a penalty shootout.

Friday night's match - the first of five finals over three weeks - featured stunning goalkeeping from three glovemen, numerous chances, a red card and a dramatic finale.

The visitors dominated the first half at Suncorp Stadium but had to wait until stoppage time to open the scoring thanks to Terry Antonis' penalty.

Brisbane levelled the match in the 55th minute through Jamie Maclaren and then gained a significant advantage in extra time when Wanderers substitute Jaushua Sotirio was sent off.

The Wanderers held on for a shootout but it was Western Sydney's Jumpei Kusukami who was the unlucky penalty-taker, with substitute goalkeeper Jamie Young saving the winger's rather tame effort in the sixth round of spot-kicks.

Roar will face Melbourne Victory in the semi-finals next week.

In some ways we should have known it would end with late drama at Suncorp Stadium.

All three of Brisbane's grand final triumphs have come after they conceded the opening goal, while Roar have also perfected the art of the late escape, with last season's 2-1 elimination final over Melbourne Victory another example.

On that occasion, Victory hit the front with just four minutes remaining only to concede almost immediately before Thomas Broich headed home in stoppage time to complete Brisbane's comeback.

Brisbane Roar 1 Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (6-5 pens)

Western Sydney will no doubt wonder what might have been had they taken more of their chances before the break.

Roar struggled to deal with the pressing of Tony Popovic's side in the opening 10 minutes, with Brendon Santalab and Nico Martinez both going close to scoring.

In a sign of things to come, Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo completed an impressive double save to deny both players in the sixth minute, while Martinez pulled his shot wide four minutes later after scything through the hosts' defence.

While Roar also created chances, the Wanderers were on top with Kearyn Baccus hitting the side-netting when left free at a corner before Martinez forced another fine stop from Theo.

Terry Antonis, Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney would get their breakthrough in the shadows of half-time when Santalab was tripped by Avram Papadopoulos in the box and Antonis beat Theo - who got a hand to the ball - from the spot.

It was no less than Popovic's side deserved but Brisbane were level less than 10 minutes into the second half.

The lead-up to this final had been all about Broich, with the attacking midfielder revealing this week that he will leave Roar at the end of the season.

Broich to leave Brisbane Roar

The outgoing veteran was a peripheral figure in the first half and was struggling defensively as Western Sydney right-back Scott Neville got forward regularly.

But in the second half, Brett Holman appeared to take responsibility for helping Roar left-back Corey Brown, allowing Broich to focus on what he does best - instigating attacks.

The German created Brisbane's equaliser in the 55th minute, releasing Brandon Borrello on a counterattack and the speedster's shot cannoned off the post for Maclaren to tap in.

Jamie Maclaren, Brisbane Roar

From then on Broich and Borrello were inspired but it was the goalkeepers who hogged the spotlight.

Theo made another good save at his near post to deny Santalab in the 76th minute, while Wanderers goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic impressively stopped Holman's effort as Roar swept up the other end before Borrello's follow-up shot was blocked on the line.

As Roar pushed for a stereotypically late winner, Janjetovic denied Brown from close range and then produced arguably the save of the match in the 90th minute to deflect Borrello's volley onto the bar.

In the first half of extra time, Young entered the fray as Theo limped off following a clash with Antonis and in his first action, the reserve gloveman parried Santalab's rasping drive over the bar.

The Wanderers were reduced to 10 players in the 103rd minute when Sotirio clattered into Brown to pick up his second yellow card in just 16 minutes on the pitch.

Brisbane pinned the visitors back for the rest of the match but were unable to conjure a winner from open play.

Instead it was left to football's version of pistols at 10 paces to see which side would reach the semi-finals.

Jumpei Kusukami, Western Sydney Wanderers

The first 10 penalties were all assured - from Antonis' Panenka to Nicholas D'Agostino's blast into the roof of the net - and when Tommy Oar converted Brisbane's sixth, Jumpei stepped up.

The Japanese hit a rather soft penalty too close to Young's left and the 31-year-old goalkeeper ensured Roar's incredible home run in A-League finals continued.