Brisbane goes back to back in yet another amazing late comeback


Hyundai A-League Grand Final
Brisbane Roar
(Berisha 84, 90+4)

Perth Glory (Franjic o.g 51’)

Sunday, 22 April 2012
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 50, 334


Brisbane Roar are champions…again! Just like in 2010/11 Brisbane Roar have won the Grand Final, and yet again they did it the hard way. Last year it was two goals in 5 minutes in extra time from Henrique and Paartalu, this year its two goals in 10 minutes with the winner in the 97th minute both from Berisha. Amazing.


Starting Line-ups:        


Substitutions: Brattan for Paartalu (65’), Fitzgerald for Murdocca (65’), Meyer for Henrique (74’)

Un-used Subs: Redmayne, Jurman
Yellow Cards: Franjic
Red Cards: Nil

Substitutions: Neville for Dodd (76’), McGarry for Smeltz (80’)

Un-used Subs: Young, Mitchell, Andrezinho
Yellow Cards: Miller, Burns, Heffernan x2, Vukovic, Mehmet
Red Cards: Heffernan


Brisbane went in with their customary 4-3-3 as expected and had some success with the fullbacks coming forward joining the attack. As expected Dodd and Howarth struggled to check their runs and the duo provided multiple crosses for Berisha and co. The wingers for Brisbane however had a much tougher time being kept in check by Glory’s fullbacks very well. Infact Brisbane had to move Broich more central in the 2nd half so that he could have an impact on the game.


Perth also went in as expected with a 4-4-2 formation but without Andrezinho and they really struggled to create much going forward. It’s not often a team goes through an entire Grand Final without creating a chance but that was the case for the Glory. Smeltz was kept very quiet although some of that was probably due to his facial injury. Jacob Burns –who I  think has now probably got his Joe Marston medal by now- was like a man possessed out there, he just ran and ran and ran managing to break up a large number of Brisbane attacks.


The 1st half was typically cagey for a Grand Final with the two best chances for Brisbane’s Mitch Nichols with a 1st time shot to the near post and Ivan Franjic turning a shot just past the post from the edge of the box. Brisbane controlled most of the possession as usual with Glory having sporadic half-chances on the break. This biggest issue of the half however was an ugly contact between Matt Smith and Shane Smeltz which left the Glory striker requiring stitches.


The 2nd half kicked off where the 1st ended with some end to end football and chances for both teams with Broich having a good shot on goal which was well stopped by Vukovic. Glory then went straight down the other end on their right hand side where Dodd had some room to move, although the best he could do was two low crosses across the box. Unfortunately for Franjic and Brisbane the 2nd of those low crosses deflected off his ankle and into the corner of the net. Unlucky- but thems the breaks. Brisbane, for the 2nd straight Grand Final were left with it all to do. For Perth- it was probably the exact script they had written- defend stoutly and hit Brisbane on the break.


Of course the goal meant that the onus was on Brisbane to chase the game and be more attacking than they already were. Postecoglou however made two changes that I didn’t see coming by bringing off last years hero’s in Paartalu and Henrique who were replaced by Brattan and Meyer. It was the other change which was the most important however with Fitzgerald replacing Murdocca and Broich moving into a more central role where he had more space. For Glory they made two changes of their own which were about being more defensively solid- while maintaining a counter attacking threat.


Just as it was beginning to seem like it wasn’t going to be Brisbane’s day- they got the equaliser. Stefanutto got the ball to Broich in an area on the left side just outside the box and he put in a great ball and Berisha who managed to evade Pantelidis at the near post and stick the ball into the back of the net. Super goal and game on in the Grand Final.


Once the 1st goal went in Brisbane rode the wave of emotion created by the 50,000 crowd and kept pushing for the winner with Fitzgerald going close at the near post following a good cutting run to the edge of the box. At the start of injury time Glory did themselves no favours when Heffernan got himself sent off for a 2nd bookable offence. The 2nd yellow was probably a decent challenge to make, but the 1st one was a daft challenge on Broich when the ball was long gone.


Just as it seemed like we were heading to extra-time for the 3rd straight final- Brisbane won possession just inside their own half with 93.58 of 94.00mins played. They got the ball forward to Broich on the edge of the area. Thomas turned and played the ball in behind for Berisha who had one shot blocked, before being adjudged to have been felled by Miller- more on the controversy of the decision in a moment-. Berisha picked himself up and after running around like a bit of a fool celebrating the awarding of the penalty, stepped up and sent Vukovic the wrong way before taking off and celebrating in the corner. 2-1 Brisbane with virtually the last kick of the Grand Final. Back to back Grand Final victories infront of a packed house, yet another amazing Orange Sunday.

But was the awarding of the penalty correct? That’s the question that the Glory players, official and fans along with some sections of the Australian football family have been asking. From my vantage point on the halfway line behind the Roar bench, my gut feeling was straight away- penalty and having looked at the replays I still think it is a penalty, but im far less certain of that now having looked at it. Imo Miller impeded Berisha by knocking him off balance in a situation where he would have likely got a shot on target. Is it harsh on Perth? Yes. Is it an incredibly tough decision for the referee to make? Yes. But somebody has to make the tough calls, and luckily from a Brisbane perspective this one went the Roars way. Infact for all the replays I’ve seen of this, the one replay im yet to see is what Gillet saw-because id be curious to see what he saw of the incident. To me that’s far more interesting than what a super slow mo from a different angle shows.


Player ratings:

Brisbane: Theoklitos 7, Franjic 7, Smith 7, Adnan 7, Stefanutto 7, Paartalu 6, Murdocca 6, Nichols 7, Henrique 7, Berisha 8, Broich 8, Brattan 6, Fitzgerald 7, Meyer 6.


Perth: Vukovic 7, Risdon 7, Van den Brink 7, Pantelidis 7, Heffernan 6, Dodd 7, Burns 8, Miller 7, Howarth 6, Mehmet 6, Smeltz 7, Neville 6, McGarry 6.




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