Brisbane Roar defied a spirited Western Sydney fightback to steal a 3-2 win at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night and grab a share of top spot on the Hyundai A-League table.
Jamie Maclaren put the home side ahead after just five minutes as a dominant Roar side took control of the match, before supersub Brendon Santalab sparked another second-half comeback by the Wanderers.
Santalab was taken down in the box by Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo in the 74th minute, with Andreu netting the resulting penalty. Romeo Castelen then danced around three Brisbane defenders to put Western Sydney ahead four minutes later.
But the Roar was not prepared to give up, with Maclaren and Dimi Petratos both scoring within the space of three minutes to snap a three-game losing streak for John Aloisi’s men.
Brisbane jumped over Adelaide United to second on the ladder, equal with leaders Western Sydney on 38 points.
1-0 Jamie Maclaren (5’) – Jack Hingert claimed possession on the right-hand side of the penalty area and squared a low cross to Maclaren, who defied the close presence of Alberto and goalkeeper Liam Reddy to net his 13th goal of the season with the deftest of touches.
1-1 Andreu (74’ pen) – Santalab was taken down by Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo at the top of the box as he charged towards goal. Referee Ben Williams did not hesitate to point to the spot before showing Theo a yellow card. Andreu fired his penalty kick directly at Theo, who was unable to block the shot as he fell to his right.
1-2 Romeo Castalen (78’) – The Dutchman put Western Sydney in front after shrugging off three Roar defenders inside the penalty area before turning on to his left foot and threading the ball between Theo’s outstretched legs.
2-2 Jamie Maclaren (81’) – The in-form Olyroos striker scored his second of the match – and 14th of the season – when he managed yet another deft touch from a Corona cross, sliding the ball across the face of goal to put the contest back on even terms.
3-2 Dimi Petratos (83’) – Henrique intercepted an errant pass from Dimas in the middle of the pitch and surged forward, dishing the ball off to the fast-moving Petratos as he approached the 18-yard box. Petratos, who sprinted at least 40m to gain possession from Henrique, required only one touch to beat Reddy and steal the three points for Brisbane.
Dimas had been one of the better players on the pitch for Western Sydney, but his errant pass which led to Petratos scoring the winner proved costly. The Spaniard pushed a long ball from the left wing straight into the path of Henrique, who took the ball forward and set up his teammate to snatch victory for the Roar.
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Brisbane has now won five of their last seven encounters against Western Sydney, although the Roar had lost two of their last three against Tony Popovic’s side prior to Friday night’s match.
Mitch Nichols, wearing the captain’s armband for the Wanderers in the absence of the suspended Nikolai Topor-Stanley, missed a golden chance to snatch an equaliser five minutes before half-time when Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo mistimed a clearing header into the attacking midfielder’s path. Nichols, however, skewed his shot into the side netting as Theo hastily attempted to regain his ground and cover an open goalmouth, leaving the Wanderers – clearly beaten in the first half – to rue what might have been.
Aloisi will be delighted to have snapped a two-game losing streak, during which his side had conceded nine goals, but the four-minute brainfade that allowed Western Sydney to score will have worried the coach. Brisbane can look forward to welcoming Tommy Oar into the line-up for next Saturday’s home clash with Melbourne Victory.