Roar keep heat on Reds
Brisbane Roar remain undefeated at home this season, triumping 2-1 over the Melbourne Victory in a Hyundai A-League epic at Suncorp Stadium.
The Brisbane Roar have overcome a powerful second-half from the Melbourne Victory to score in the 77th minute and seal a 2-1 win in a classic back-and-forth battle at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane took an early lead through Mitch Nichols and looked like running away with the match, but the visitors returned a different side in the second-half and when Robbie Kruse scored against his former club in the 48th minute, Brisbane's undefeated record at home this season was in serious danger.
But showing exceptional heart in their third game in eight days, Brisbane clung on, and after a great run from Luke DeVere, substitute Jean Carlos Solorzano slammed home his first A-League goal in the 77th minute.
Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou was a picture of pride as he praised his men after the game. "Full credit to the boys, we were running on empty. It was a fantastic effort."
"We've played better this year for sure, but in terms of proving our resilience it was brilliant," he said.
Incredibly gracious in defeat, Victory coach Ernie Merrick was understandably crushed by the result. To their credit I thought the role played really good football, and dominated central midfield in the first half, and deserved to be ahead.
"In the second half we put ourselves in position to win it… we had shot after shot."
"It was a bit of a heartbreaker, but I thought it was a graet second-half performance, but we really lost it in the first half."
"We've got to convert our chances, and with that much domination in their half , you've got to score goals - we paid the price," Merrick said.
Fielding a side without experienced defenders Shane Stefanutto and Milan Susak, who were unable to overcome a hamstring and calf injury respectively, Matt Mundy was promoted to the Roar squad for his second start of the season, and there were no defenders on the bench.
Typically, Brisbane came out aggressive, and pushing forward, both Ivan Franjic and Massimo Murdocca fired off long range warning shots, before Thomas Broich had a great chance in the area, but fired his shot just wide of the box.
The Victory had their first opportunity in the 12th when Tomislav Pondeljak played a nice through-ball for Ricardinho, forcing Michael Theoklitos to hurry off his line and reel the ball in seconds before he arrived.
Minutes later Ricardinho had the opportunity to get a shot in, this time from 5-yards out of the area, and his dipping effort forced Theoklitos to parry over the crossbar.
The Victory were matching everything their opponents threw at them, and the first 20-minutes was a back and forth affair, as the two heavyweight sides fought to establish dominance.
Victory keeper Michael Petkovic made a brilliant reaction save in the 23rd minute as Reinaldo had a clever deflection on a dangerous cross from Franjic, who was playing beautifully along the right flank.
The break-through goal came in the 26th minute from a beautiful corner piece. Matt McKay and Broich played a short one two, before sending the ball into the area, where Erik Paartalu headed towards the far post where Mitch Nichols made no mistake with the tap-in.
Brisbane almost had a second from another set piece when Broich sent a curler into the area and again it was the 193cm Paartalu who rose above the pack, heading towards goal where Petkovic made a good save.
From the very next corner Reinaldo forced yet another reaction save from a header.
After a competitive start, increasingly it was the Roar dominating, with solid performers across the park, and Broich and McKay putting on a play-making master-class.
But after the half-time break the Victory showed they were far from done, and in the 48th minute Robbie Kruse took the ball outside the area and created space to hammer in a right-footed goal against his former-club.
All square on the scoreboard, the two sides fell into a war of attrition, throwing everything into the match with an intensity that was well received by the Suncorp Crowd.
Brisbane went for a double change with just under half an hour remaining, bringing on attacking weapons Jean Carlos Solorzano and Kosta Barbarouses.
Melbourne were starting to get on top, as the Roar felt the effects of playing their eighth game in three days, and with Hernandez beginning to impose his will the signs were ominous for the home team.
But central defender Luke DeVere turned the game on its head with a purposeful drive from half-way all the way into the area. Adrian Leija slid in to knock the ball free just as he was about to pull the trigger, but the ball spilled free to Solorzano who made no mistake.
The Victory putting everything they could into the final quarter of an hour, but were kept at bay by desperate defence and a pair of sensational saves by Michael Theoklitos in the 90th minute.
Brisbane Roar: 2 (Nichols 26, Solorzano 77) Melbourne Victory: 1 (Kruse 48) Crowd: 9425