Steven Lustica’s sublime hat-trick inspired Brisbane Roar to a much-needed 6-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.
Roar rediscovered top form to punish the out-of-sorts visitors with three goals in each half.
Thomas Broich’s surprise inclusion inspired Brisbane early but it was Steven Lustica who stole the show thanks to an eye-catching treble.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It was a good performance from the boys today, we needed it after the last few losses we’ve had. I think we’re still in the race now and hopefully we can push on. I think we pressed right from the start, which is what’s been missing the last few weeks. I think we’re back to playing the Brisbane Roar way.” – Brisbane Roar midfielder Steven Lustica
“I think we got what we deserved tonight, we were second best to everything in the first-half and we were punished for it. We’ve been building each week and we’ve been talking about getting better and tonight we let ourselves down, we let our fans down and it was quite embarrassing in the end.” – Central Coast defender Josh Rose
1-0 Kaluderovic (21’) – Thomas Broich was the architect in typical fashion, lifting a delicate ball over the defence for Kaluderovic to chase. The striker reeled in the pass, held off Zac Anderson and rolled his finish into the bottom corner.
2-0 Lustica (28’) – Kaluderovic threatened a second moments earlier, but it was Steven Lustica extending Roar’s advantage as the midfielder’s powerful drive left Liam Reddy helpless.
3-0 Lustica (41’) – Lustica bettered his own work in spectacular fashion, opening his body and fizzing a clean sheet into the bottom corner from well outside the area.
4-0 Clut (48’) – Devante Clut has developed a knack for the sublime but the 19-year-old’s first of the Hyundai A-League season was his simplest, profiting from Jean Carlos Solorzano’s left-sided surge into the area.
5-0 Borrello (50’) – Central Coast were again punished for defending deep when boom youngster Brandon Borrello finished high after being picked out by Lustica.
5-1 Bowles OG (64’) – Travis Major’s right-sided cross evaded Nick Fitzgerald but not Roar defender Daniel Bowles whose attempted clearance miscued into the bottom corner.
6-1 Lustica (79’) – Lustica’s third was the easiest of his hattrick, tucking away Kaluderovic’s cross after dazzling lead-up play Dimitri Petratos.
It’s rare a match is decided before a ball is kicked, but there is little common about Thomas Broich’s class.
Frans Thijssen’s selection of the underdone German playmaker could have backfired; instead, Broich assisted two goals in his 45 minutes of football as a far more confident Roar kicked away early.
Brisbane Roar needed a reason to smile and Steven Lustica duly obliged with a top-class treble.
The former Hajduk Split man speared an excellent first after a short corner and improved on that with a sweet first-time effort to put the hosts 3-0 ahead at the break, before capping his night out late in proceedings.
Already trailing 1-0, Central Coast Mariners fatally fell asleep in the 28th minute as Thomas Broich eyed a short corner.
Steven Lustica, given an age to size up his shot, repaid Broich’s faith to punish a basic oversight of Tony Walmsley’s defence.
THE FINAL WORD
Brisbane Roar produced their finest 90 minutes of the season to revive some hope of Finals Series football just days after those chances appeared ended.
Mariners, meanwhile, looked a shell of their former selves ahead of next weekend’s visit from Western Sydney Wanderers.