Brisbane Roar kept alive their hopes of an unprecedented A-League three-peat with a convincing 2-1 elimination final win over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Brisbane Roar kept alive their hopes of an unprecedented A-League three-peat with a convincing 2-1 elimination final win over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.
The Roar showcased why they have been a finals force in recent seasons by bossing the contest from the outset against a thoroughly outclassed Reds outfit, who failed to fire any meaningful shots until the very death when they suddenly came alive.
A magnificent Luke Brattan goal was just reward for the visitors' extended front-third dominance before Ivan Franjic appeared to seal it moments before half-time.
Dario Vidosic goaled at the death as United streamed forward regularly but the Roar held their nerve and deserved their victory.
Brisbane, who take on competition newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers in this Friday's semi-final, have stepped up at the right time of the year but their victory came at a cost with as many as three players sustaining injuries.
Captain Thomas Broich sustained an injury to his left Achilles, English-born defender Jack Hingert was stretchered off in the 65th minute after rolling his ankle, and goal-scoring Brattan looked proppy when he was substituted off near full-time.
Adelaide's early-season promise fell away the longer their campaign went and against Brisbane, their defence, which looked slow and frazzled, was regularly reactive and opened up by the likes of Brattan, Franjic and Besart Berisha.
The home side started nervously, with Osama Malik firing a shot five minutes in which, embarrassingly, almost cleared the top tier, while Marcelo Carrusca's wayward effort 10 minutes later was only marginally lower.
Less than a minute later, Bruce Djite - well held by Jade North - went on a promising solo run but when it mattered, he couldn't get a clean enough piece of it.
United perked up momentarily and almost stole the early lead in the 25th minute when a Dario Vidosic curler wobbled out of Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo's mits and into the path of Jeronimo Neumann and Djite, who both did their best to scramble one past the clutches of Theo.
It was a rare dangerous looking-looking Reds attack as the visitors, slick with their ball movement and clean with their execution, ran riot.
Roar captain Thomas Broich always looked a threat on the dead ball as Brisbane racked up the first six corners of the contest, their efforts finally rewarded when Brattan scored one of the goals of the season in the 27th minute.
The masterful set piece saw Broich swung the corner well away from goal where Brattan, wide open, had a full-volleyed Paul Scholes-like ping from just outside the penalty box, which was too good for Reds custodian Eugene Galekovic.
The shot took a last-second ricochet of United defender Cassio, but was always on target and thus officially awarded to Brattan.
Brisbane continued to press and the pressure tolled on Adelaide with Jeronimo losing his cool and copping a yellow card for showing dissent at referee Chris Beath.
Everything was going the Roar's way until dangerman Broich hobbled off after sustaining an injury to his left Achilles while attempting to challenge Jeronimo, which saw the Brisbane skipper subbed off at half-time.
Against the flow, the Reds almost equalised in the 43rd minute when Vidosic came agonisingly close to sliding in for goal from close range.
The Roar kept surging and were rewarded in the shadow of half-time when defender Franjic made it 2-0 in injury time, when he beat Cassio and guided the ball into the corner from a flat Mitchell Nicholls cross.
With their season on the line, the hosts showed renewed life after the interval with the injection of Fabio Ferreira, who providing some energy and liveliness.
Two close calls went begging for Djite and Jeronimo early in the second half and another Jeronimo opportunity in the 58th minute was denied by some outstanding Roar defence.
Brattan had a chance to notch a brace when he beat Galekovic only to watch his effort roll across the face and centimetres wide of the post.
Galekovic did well to keep out a Stefan Nijland free kick on 80 minutes, while Vidosic did his best to rally the Reds, with some superb playmaking and a team-lifting goal in the 88th minute when he smashed one past Theo.
Tomi Juric's 90th minute hit forced Theo into a desperate save as the Reds attacked with desperate intent in injury time, Brisbane under immense pressure virtually for the first time all evening.
Adelaide's pulsating late flurry excited the crowd but it was too little, too late.
Bet365 Man of the Match: Thomas Broich Can you be Man of the Match when you only play 42 minutes? Yes you can, because for those 42 minutes the German was at his brilliant best and he was the catalyst for Brisbane's two goals.
Adelaide United 1 (Vidosic 88) Brisbane Roar 2 (Brattan 27, Franjic 45) @ Hindmarsh Stadium, 7/4/2013 Crowd: 10,230.