Brisbane have moved back to the top of the A-League ladder after a 3-1 victory over Western Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane’s returning stars and their exciting rookie helped them regain top spot on the A-League ladder and end Western Sydney’s unbeaten run on Friday night.
The Roar claimed a 3-1 victory through first-half goals from Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic before an injury-time sealer by Kwame Yeboah to beat the Wanderers for the first time in five attempts in front of 19,066 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The loss is the Wanderers’ first of the season and ends an 18-match regular season unbeaten run, despite the visitors bossing most of the second half.
Western Sydney, already missing strikers Tomi Juric and Youssouf Hersi through injury, face a nervous wait after Japanese star Shinji Ono limped off late in the first half.
His withdrawal came after a pulsating start to the match by the Roar, who ended the Wanderers’ remarkable record of never conceding inside the opening 20 minutes of an A-League match when Berisha found the back of the net after just five minutes.
The Albanian, making his first start in four matches following a hamstring strain, ran determinedly through the Wanderers’ defence and struck home after his initial effort was blocked.
Socceroo Franjic, making his 100th A-League start just days after playing a full game in Australia’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica, then made it two in the 19th minute with a stunning strike.
Franjic swept a right-foot volley from outside the box into the bottom corner after Henrique’s touch found the midfielder in space.
The Wanderers were gifted a way back into the game in the 28th minute when a loose clearance from Jade North was well-intercepted by Mark Bridge.
He fed the ball to Brendon Santalab and the Wanderers’ striker coolly chipped home to reduce the margin.
But despite dominating possession and creating several chances in the second-half, including a header that hit the crossbar, the Wanderers’ fate was sealed when substitute Yeboah smashed home his second goal of the season with just seconds to go.
Roar coach Mike Mulvey said top spot wasn’t as important to him as bouncing back from last week’s 2-1 loss to Newcastle by defeating what he described as a formidable opponent.
“I hadn’t even thought that we’re on top of the league, I just know that we’ve beaten one of the best teams around at home,” he said.
“That’s the most important thing.”
Wanderers’ coach Tony Popovic said Ono’s withdrawal was just precautionary with the marquee man complaining of tightness in his groin before his 43rd minute substitution.
In a game where his team had more possession and more shots, Popovic said it was the Roar’s fast start which had proven the difference.
“We can’t hide away from the fact that the first 20 minutes were very poor,” he said.
“They’ve got some outstanding individuals and we got punished.
“From the 20th minute mark we dominated the game and we’ve come away with nothing … but you can’t give a team like the Roar a two-goal start.”