Brisbane secure grand final

Brisbane will host the Hyundai A-League grand final following a 2-2 draw with the Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium.

Brisbane Roar have won the right to host the city-s first ever Hyundai A-League grand final following a dramatic 2-2 draw against Central Coast Mariners in the second leg of the major semi-final.

On the wrong side of a 2-0 score line at the half-time, Ange Postecoglou-s men showed perseverance and determination in building a second-half revival with substitute Henrique-s stoppage time equaliser a well-deserved reward for their constant nuisance in front of goal.

While in some parts of the match Brisbane-s unbeaten streak looked likely to come to a halt, the result stretched the run to 27 games without a loss in the Hyundai A-League.

Brisbane heaped pressure on their Central Coast counterparts from the outset but some uncharacteristically nervy touches from the men in orange gifted their opponents a couple of half chances that goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos dealt with easily.

The Mariners started to warm to the task in the game-s early stages with Patrick Zwaanswijk and Patricio Perez going closest to finding the back of the net, the latter having arguably the best chance to find the opener inside the penalty area on the 16 minute mark.

However, the Roar were not content to rest on their two goal advantage and skipper Matt McKay almost broke the deadlock ten minutes later, floating a left-footed volley just too high of the goal-s top corner.

Defender Matt Smith had Brisbane-s next chance, rising highest from a mass of bodies to connect with a Thomas Broich corner but his touch sent the ball the wrong side of the post.

Two minutes later, Smith connected with another corner from Broich to set up striker Jean Carlos Solorzano, whose headed effort was surely goal bound if not for the intervention of Central Coast striker Daniel McBreen.

It was against the run of play that the Central Coast took the lead, scoring twice in the space of two minutes to set an even slate in the two-legged major semi-final and create a thrilling finals contest in the second 45 minute period.

First, a tight-angled shot from McBreen bounced unluckily off Theoklitos, then Smith and into the goal to open the scoring before a stunning, long range strike from Oliver Bozanic beat the Brisbane ‘keeper just ninety seconds later.

Silencing the 25,168-strong crowd, the Mariners- two quick goals meant the sides went into the changing rooms with an overall 2-2 score line over the two legs of the semi-final.

The opening stages of the second half brought few chances for either side and it took a piece of individual brilliance from German playmaker Broich reinstall Brisbane-s confidence.

Broich collected the ball from the right wing and dazzled his way into the area before sending a cheeky touch off Central Coast custodian Matt Ryan and into the back of the net, giving the Roar a slight advantage in the battle to host the Hyundai A-League grand final.

The goal brought fresh life into the contest with the match producing end-to-end football in its final stages.

Impressive build-up play gave Ivan Franjic a chance to try his luck in front of goal before a glancing header from McBreen brought about a diving save from Theoklitos.

Kosta Barbarouses had a golden chance to equalise with ten minutes remaining on the clock after he was fed a well-timed through ball from McKay, but the Kiwi forward-s strike sailed over the crossbar.

It was frantic football on show at Suncorp Stadium and Brisbane soon confirmed their appearance in this year-s grand final when substitutes Massimo Murdocca and Henrique combined for Brisbane-s second.

Finding himself with acres of space with the goal in clear sight, Murdocca unselfishly cut the back to his Brazilian teammate, who powered his first-time shot past Ryan to send the home crowd into raptures.

Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou was pleased with the result but admitted it wasn-t easy at times against the Mariners.

“It was a typical finals game, two teams going at each other,” he said.

“I guess from our point of view it-s a good result and we achieved our objective but we made things a little bit hard for ourselves and we had to fight for it.

“We had some chances early on and didn-t take them, we weren-t as clinical as we have been in the past, we weren-t as crisp and we got done by two sucker-punches, right after each other.”

Brisbane will now host the Hyundai A-League grand final on Sunday, 13 March at Suncorp Stadium, with kick-off at 4pm.

Brisbane Roar (Thomas BROICH 63-, HENRIQUE 90+1-)
Central Coast Mariners (Matt SMITH (og) 39-, Oliver BOZANIC 40-)

Major semi-final (2nd leg)
Saturday, 26 February 2011
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Peter Green
Crowd: 25,168

Brisbane Roar line-up: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (8. Massimo MURDOCCA 74-), 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS (10. HENRIQUE 57-), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK

Substitutes not used: 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards:Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (24. Bernie IBINI-ISEI 81-), 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 23. Adam KWASNIK

Substitutes not used: 7. John HUTCHINSON, 17. Chris DOIG, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk)

Yellow cards: Michael McGLINCHEY 28-, Oliver BOZANIC 40-, Pedj BOJIC 82-, 90+3-

Red cards: Pedj BOJIC 90+3-

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