Brisbane Roar have qualified for the Group Stage of the AFC Champions League for the third time in their history after downing Asian powerhouse Shanghai Shenhua 2-0 in China overnight.
Two clinical first-half finishes from Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar stunned the home fans at Hongkou Stadium, with the Roar holding their nerve in the second stanza to see out a famous victory.
The Hyundai A-League club’s reward following the result is a place in Group E of the ACL, where they’ll face Japan’s Kashima Antlers, Thailand’s Muangthong United and Korea Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai.
Coach John Aloisi made seven changes to the side that beat Philippines outfit Global FC in last week’s ACL qualifier, with Jamie Maclaren starting up front and Jamie Young retaining his spot in goals.
The Roar boss didn’t have to wait long to find out if he’d pulled the right rein with Borrello, fresh from his four goal haul in last week’s qualifier, volleying into the back of the net inside two minutes.
Playing out from the back Young found the head of Corey Brown, whose flick on allowed Oar to charge into space down the left flank.
The Socceroo swung in a perfectly weighted cross that found Borrello at the back post, who blazed a first time strike into the back of the net.
The in-form forward came close to grabbing a second ten minutes later when he went on a weaving run and was afforded time to shoot, with his drive hitting the post and diverting away from danger.
Shanghai began to get a foothold on the match midway through the half, with their attacking pressure drawing a number of fouls from the Roar in dangerous areas.
Striker Obafemi Martins came closest to drawing his side level when he tried to get on the end of a set-piece variation but Maclaren was alert to the danger and able to smother his effort.
Despite the home side’s weight of possession Young’s first meaningful save came just shy of the half hour mark when he dived athletically to save a curling shot from Cao Yunding.
Having soaked up some pressure, Roar doubled their advantage five minutes before the break when Borrello took on his defender in the box before cutting the ball back for Oar who calmly slotted home.
Brisbane lost defender Jack Hingert to injury just before the interval with Daniel Bowles his replacement, however Shanghai were frustrated in their bid to get back into the match in the second stanza.
A fine reaction save from Young palmed a shot from Martins onto the bar, while marquee signing Carlos Tevez threatened at various stages.
Not content to sit back and preserve their advantage Roar looked to kill the game off in transition, with Maclaren coming close with a cheeky chip, while skipper Matt McKay somehow missed an open goal from just a couple of yards out in injury time.
It mattered little as Brisbane Roar were able to see out the match, claiming a deserved 2-0 result.
They’ll now look forward to hosting Muangthong United on match day 1 of the ACL Group Stage with an away match against Ulsan Hyundai, who this week acquired former teammate Dimitri Petratos, to follow.