Brisbane Roar have celebrated the first round of 2016 by moving into top spot with a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Jamie Maclaren netted the opener against his former side shortly after the restart before substitute Henrique doubled the advantage with a delightful second in quick time.
Hagi Gligor cut the deficit only seconds after coming on with a superb strike of his own, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts from leapfrogging Western Sydney Wanderers into first.
1-0 Jamie Maclaren (52’) – Petratos and Broich exchanged passes before the former helped a ball into the path of Maclaren, who delicately stroked his finish across Covic and in off the far post.
2-0 Henrique (61’) – Seemingly crowded out after receiving a pass from Maclaren, the star substitute stopped, swivelled and kissed a delightful finish into the top right corner to put his side two goals clear.
2-1 Hagi Gligor (70’) – Barely seconds after replacing Michael Thwaite, Gligor immediately justified the switch by sweetly spearing Diego Castro’s cutback inside the far post.
Diego Castro might have been central to the best of Perth’s opportunities, but the Spaniard’s inability to bury a golden chance on the half hour mark severely damaged the visitors’ hopes of extending their unbeaten streak.
Given plenty of time and space to pick his spot, Castro could only place a right-side cutback straight at the retreating Shane Stefanutto, who coolly cleared the close-range effort.
With Perth at times under the pump in the first-half, Ante Covic’s four saves in the opening 45 minutes kept his side in the contest.
The experienced gloveman’s finest work arrived in the 21st minute when he exhibited the athleticism of a far younger man to tip Thomas Broich’s curling attempt around the far post at full-stretch.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Kenny Lowe’s decision to substitute forward Jamal Reiners for defensive utility Aryn Williams at half-time backfired to the tune of two early Roar goals.
While Reiners’ impact had been limited, the visitors grew into the latter stages of the first-half and produced two good opportunities to take the lead. However, impetus was lost with Williams’ introduction and only recaptured when midfielder Hagi Gligor later replaced Michael Thwaite.
THE FINAL WORDBrisbane’s fourth straight victory – and their seventh without defeat at home – sees the three-time champions start the year in top spot, ahead of the Wanderers on goals scored.
The title credentials of John Aloisi’s side are strengthening by the week, with upcoming away trips to Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory possibly defining their claims for another premiership.
Glory missed the chance to break into the top six and instead remain ninth ahead of a return home to meet Adelaide United and Melbourne City in consecutive weeks.
Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Hingert, North, Bowles, Stefanutto, Corona, Petratos (Hervas 80’), McKay, Borrello (Henrique 59’), Maclaren (Solorzano 69’), Broich
Perth Glory: Covic (gk), Risdon, Thwaite (Gligor 70’), Grant, Warren, Oxborrow, Sandor, Harold, Castro, Garcia, Reiners (Williams 46’)
Scorers: Maclaren 52’, Henrique 61’, Gligor 70’
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Warren 18’, Borrello 45’
Conditions: 26°C, dry
Attendance: 17,696 @ Suncorp Stadium