Classic Finals | Roar's comeback

Of all Hyundai A-League grand finals, the one that sticks in the mind most is Brisbane remarkable back-from-the-dead victory in 2011.

On the eve of the 2013 Hyundai A-League grand final, associate editor Michael Cockerill reminds us of one of the great grand finals of the past.

Ange Postecoglou's coming of age? The 120th minute of the pulsating 2011 Hyundai A-League grand final, after Erik Paartalu had scored from the last corner of the game. Look at him revving up the capacity Suncorp Stadium crowd as the match headed into a penalty shoot-out. He just knew what was about to come.

This was the moment when Postecoglou's second coming as a professional coach crossed the rubicon, when was back in control of his own destiny after the ignominy of being dumped as coach of the Young Socceroos, which was followed by a short spell with Greek club Panachaiki, an even shorter spell with semi-pro Whittlesea Zebras, and a confidence-sapping rejection from Adelaide United.

It's little wonder, perhaps, that Postecoglou remains an avowed fan of the grand final system. There have been four wins from four as a coach (twice with South Melbourne, twice with Brisbane Roar), and two wins out of two as a player (South Melbourne in 1984 and 1991). The big day has certainly been kind to him.

Fate has never been kinder than it was in the 2011 title-decider, although Postecoglou bristles at suggestions he has, at times, ridden his luck.

Luck? In the final moments of regulation time, with the match still scoreless, Central Coast Mariners striker Bernie Ibini was played through for a one-on-one with Brisbane Roar keeper Michael Theo. Unusually, referee Matthew Breeze chose that exact moment to blow for extra time. Another few seconds, and who knows?

Michael McGlinchey is devastated after the game.

What we do know is that the Mariners regrouped well enough to take a 96th minute lead through Adam Kwasnik, and when Oliver Bozanic doubled the advantage four minutes later, Fox Sports commentator Andy Harper remarked: ''Can Brisbane get out of it? I can't see it.''

Famously, unbelievably, they did. A couple of weeks earlier, Brisbane had come back from a two-goal deficit in the second leg of the major semi-final in Gosford. With the Postecoglou evolution gathering pace, the self-belief within the Roar dressing room was palpable.

This, after all, was the team which had gone into the grand final on the back of a 27-game unbeaten run. Having the vast majority of the 50,168 supporters in their corner didn't hurt either.

But it was the 2,000 travelling Mariners fans who were preparing for a party as the game entered the second half of extra time. Surely the perennial bridesmaids - they had lost their two previous grand finals (2006 and 2008) - were finally going to get their reward?

Henrique then scored with a shot which Mariners keeper Mat Ryan should have kept out. This, at a stage when some Roar supporters had already left the ground.

Then came the unthinkable. Substitute Rocky Visconte put a challenge on Pedj Bojic that probably should have earned the Mariners a free kick.

Instead Daniel McBreen put the cross away for a corner. On the sidelines, Graham Arnold rubbed his sweaty hands on his pants. The corner from Thomas Broich would be the last kick of the game. Surely not?

The rest, as they say, is history. The corner swung in, Patrick Zwaanswijk slipped at the crucial moment, and Paartalu thumped his header into the net. Lost in the pandemonium of the moment was the sound of the final whistle. Shoot-out.

After two penalties apiece, McBreen stepped up. Theo, in goals, had a point to prove. McBreen had given him some lip at a previous corner, pointing to the scoreboard. The Roar keeper came up trumps with a fantastic save. The pendulum had swung, irrevocably, towards the home team. Theo stood 10 feet tall.

Michael Theo celebrates his penalty heroics.

Matt McKay put away the next spot kick. Up came Bojic for the Mariners. Save!

Fate delivered the opportunity for a place in history to Henrique, and the little Brazilian didn't disappoint. Brisbane Roar were champions for the first time. The first Queensland team to win the title since Brisbane Strikers had won on the same ground 14 years before.

TEAMS: BRISBANE ROAR (4-3-3): Michael Theo; Ivan Franjic, Matt Smith, Milan Susak, Shane Stefanutto; Mitch Nichols, Erik Paartalu, Matt McKay; Thomas Broich; Juan-Carlos Solorzano, Kosta Barbarouses. CENTRAL COAST MARINERS (4-4-2): Mat Ryan; Pedj Bojic, Alex Wilkinson, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Josh Rose; Michael McGlinchey, Rostyn Griffiths, Mustafa Amini, Oliver Bozanic; Matt Simon, Adam Kwasnik.