Gold Coast demolishes Brisbane
Gold Coast United has maintained its hold over rivals Brisbane Roar, knocking in five goals to register a comprehensive 5-1 victory at Skilled Park on Boxing Day.
Gold Coast United has maintained its hold over rivals Brisbane Roar, knocking in five goals to register an emphatic 5-1 victory at Skilled Park on Boxing Day.
A hat-trick from Shane Smeltz and a double from Kristian Rees gave United's biggest home crowd of the season plenty to cheer about in an entertaining fixture that offered everything.
However United's win wasn't without cost, as captain Jason Culina revealed after the match that he had twisted his knee late in the second half and looks in grave doubt for Australia's Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait on January 6.
Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg also upgraded left-back Adama Traore's status to a possible broken ankle after the Ivorian landed awkwardly early in the second half.
With both Gold Coast and Brisbane fans in full voice, it was the Roar who struck early in the seventh minute with a penalty-box scramble falling in.
Sergio van Dijk crossed from the left into Henrique who knocked the ball over his head into the middle of the penalty area, Culina failed to clear properly with his head and it ended up back with Henrique who shot straight at 'keeper Jess Vanstattan.
The resulting deflection fell to Roar midfielder Matt McKay at the top of the box, who made no mistake slamming first-time into the back of the net.
Spurred on, Brisbane then won a corner five minutes later, defender Luke Devere met it well with a glancing effort but United right-back Zenon Caravella was able to get a foot on it to deflect wide.
Gold Coast's first effort on target came a short time later when Michael Thwaite put in a deep cross to Joel Porter whose header was on target but straight at the keeper.
Michael Zullo lined up against Porter and had the best of the battle for the first 20 minutes making three one-on-one tackles.
Rees felt the wrath of referee Strebre Delovski in the 23rd minute earning himself a yellow card when he fouled van Dijk just inside the United half.
Steve Pantelidis then followed quickly, earning his 11th yellow card of the season after a rash tackle on McKay.
With Brisbane having the better of possession, Adam Sarota flashed wide just before the half-hour mark, the Roar nearly broke through United's lines twice more, but some last-ditch defending enabled Gold Coast to clear.
Playing against his former team for the first time, Charlie Miller then hit a placid shot from outside the area three minutes later, but his effort landed safely into the hands of Roar custodian Griffin McMaster.
Five mintues before half-time, United was then dealt a blow to its defensive stocks when Traore injured his ankle.
After being played into the area by Smeltz, Traore's dangerous cut-back across the area forced him to fall awkwardly, and after treatment on the sidelines failed he was replaced by Anderson.
The Brazilian substitute looked to stamp his authority on the match flashing wide a short time later, his effort followed Thwaite's low left-foot drive straight at McMaster.
As Gold Coast lifted its intensity, the men in yellow found a much sought after equaliser deep into first-half stoppage time.
Rees made amends for his earlier yellow, when he smashed home a ball which fell perfectly for him after McKay failed to clear a Culina free-kick. The goal a fitting end to an entertaining display by both sides.
Emerging from the tunnel buoyed by the late equaliser United went straight onto the attack, Caravella playing in Culina who darted into the area back-heeling to Porter who was streaming into the box.
The pressure in the Brisbane area was too much for Roar defender Zullo who bundled into the back of the No.14, earning United a penalty.
Smeltz took responsibility for the spot-kick and made no mistake, slotting low to McMaster's right.
With the Roar rattled and on the back foot, the away side then conceded a corner.
Gold Coast's first-half hero Rees scored his second goal after nipping in at the front post to dink a right-foot effort past the extended arm of McMaster, making the score 3-1.
The home side then put the game beyond doubt in the 60th minute when Smeltz peeled off two Roar defenders and headed Porter's cross from the right expertly home, the World Cup-bound All-White confirming why he's the league's leading goal scorer.
Things then went pear-shaped for the Roar as they opened up and nearly granted Smeltz his hat-trick five minutes later, but the Kiwi international wasn't to be denied, Culina playing a neat chip into Caravella who slid a pass across the goalmouth to Smeltz who tapped home a classic poacher's goal.
Van Dijk tried to give the Roar some respect on the score sheet in the 80th minute, but his effort found the wrong side of Vanstrattan's left up-right, as did Roar defender Josh McCloughan-s effort two minutes before time.
However, the damage was done, United claiming bragging rights over its capital city rivals for the third time this season.
United's coach was extremely pleased with his side's win, Miron Bleiberg saying that it showed character to bounce back from a goal down and take the match in such a compelling fashion.
"It was good, I am very happy to win and it's good to come from behind and win, when you look at the final result it shows character, and it doesn't happen very often in the A-league," Bleiberg said.
"The Roar played well in the first half and were in control, it was very even but luckily we equalized."
"Brisbane had a few chances, but they came late, we could have continued, but I told the team to sit back in the last 20 minutes and enjoy it."
A disappointed Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou agreed that a lot needed to be done for the Roar to continue their finals ambitions, believing that the Gold Coast showed exactly where his side was at.
"I'm obviously disappointed, it was a big game for us and I guess in the end we fell short, well short," he said.
"I thought the first half hour we were solid, we scored our goal and looked threatening and really they didn't create much, obviously we conceded a soft goal and that gave them the momentum going into the second half."
"Gold Coast were too good and we were second best, we got comprehensively beaten all over the place, we'll have a look at it over the week, but at the moment you just have to say that they were the better side."
Gold Coast United 5 (Rees 45, 53, Smeltz 50p, 61, 77) Brisbane Roar 1 (McKay 7) Crowd: 10,024 @ Skilled Park