Brisbane Roar has extended its lead at the summit of the Hyundai A-League to 11 points courtesy of a gutsy 1-0 win over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Brisbane had to contend with missing three key players through international duty and injury, but Ange Postecoglou-s young side held firm to secure a vital three points.
Jean Carlos Solorzano-s 10th goal of the season was enough to stretch Brisbane-s unbeaten Hyundai A-League run to 19 matches in one of the most entertaining contests of the season to-date.
Adelaide started the contest the better and Michael Theoklitos needed to be on his toes after just five minutes when United left back Cassio tried an outrageous effort from a sharp angle which the Brisbane keeper did well to keep out of the net.
Mitch Nichols had Brisbane-s first opportunity 15 minutes later when he combined, as he has for most of the season, well with Kosta Barbarouses but his effort from outside the box went just wide of the mark.
Former Roar striker Sergio van Dijk very nearly played a part in an opening goal when he stole in front of the Brisbane defence to meet an Iain Ramsay cross, but his toe poke spun in the box rather than rolling towards the goal and Brisbane were able to clear the danger.
Barbarouses was played in by Solorzano just before the half hour mark, but despite turning Iain Fyfe in the box, he scuffed his shot and didn-t trouble Mark Birighitti in the Adelaide goal.
Solorzano then looked to inject himself further into the game just two minutes later when he launched an effort from a full 30 metres out, but his shot sailed over the bar.
Brisbane were gradually grabbing a hold of the game and Milan Susak found himself in the box after working his way forward, but his snatched effort rolled directly into the arms of Birighitti.
The Roar nearly had the first goal of the contest when Solorzano whipped a ball across the box which Birighitti palmed back into the box but despite taking a deflection off an Adelaide player and back towards goal, the home side were eventually able to clear the danger.
Neither side could fashion a clear opportunity in the opening 10 minutes of the second half as both defences held firm.
Nichols went agonisingly close to opening the scoring with an amazing overhead effort after a Barbarouses shot was saved by Birighitti, ballooning into the middle of the box.
Despite making good contact, Nichols- effort went just over the bar with the keeper stranded.
Brazilian winger Henrique made his long-awaited return from a broken arm, introduced into the action on 67 minutes and he immediately injected some extra zip into the Roar attack.
However it was Brisbane-s Central American star Solorzano who put the away side in front when he made the most of a deflection in the Adelaide defence to shoot past Birighitti on the angle with his left foot.
Brisbane continued to step up the pressure with quick passing movements causing the Adelaide defence some headaches.
Henrique hit the post with 15 minutes to play from the almost impossible angle having beaten Cameron Watson down the Roar-s left, hitting the post with Birighitti struggling to make ground on his near side.
The game opened up dramatically as Adelaide sought to draw level and Brisbane looked to put the game to bed.
Theoklitos and Erik Paartalu combined to keep the Reds at bay a short time later as the home side pushed forward at the urging of the crowd.
Fyfe very nearly caught out Theoklitos from distance with just minutes left in the contest, but the Brisbane keeper got back onto his line with the ball seemingly headed for the back of the net to tip the ball over for a corner.
Brisbane were under tremendous pressure in the closing stages of stoppage time as Adelaide continued to push forward on the back of some controversial free kicks awarded to the home side.
However, Brisbane held strong to claim a huge three points in the context of the season.
A clearly delighted Ange Postecoglou hailed his young players for securing the win despite being without the services of captain Matt McKay, Thomas Broich and Ivan Franjic.
“I-m really proud, it was a massive effort by the boys,” Postecoglou said.
“It was a pretty young team out there, we lost some quality players during the week but also some experience.
“The boys worked really hard, it was a nail-biter in the end, but I am super proud of the effort.”
Postecoglou said the loss of three influential players was not a highlight for the squad during the week, instead focussing the player-s efforts on the football they want to play.
“We-ve tried to focus on just playing well every week and not worry too much about the results,” he said.
“It seems to be working with this group of players.
“There-s no pressure on them, the last thing I say to them before they go out every week is to just play well and not worry about the result.”
Adelaide United 0
Brisbane Roar 1 (Jean Carlos SOLORAZNO 69-)
Sunday, 2 January 2010
Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
Referee: Matthew Breeze
Adelaide United: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (2.Robert CORNTHWAITE 85-), 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO (18.Fabian BARBIERO 78-), 8.Adam HUGHES (13.Travis DODD 67-), 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES, 12.Paul REID, 14.Cameron WATSON, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 26.Joe KEENAN
Substitutes not used: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk)
Yellow cards: Robert CORNTHWAITE (90-)
Red cards: Nil
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES (12. Matt MUNDY, 90-+4), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (10. HENRIQUE 67”), 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 14. Rocky VISCONTE (18. Luke BRATTAN 46-), 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 23. Milan SUSAK.
Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: Mitch NICHOLS (37-), Milan SUSAK (40-)
Red cards: Nil