Besart Berisha fires Brisbane Roar into A-League decider
Besart Berisha scored a brilliant goal to seal a 1-0 win for the Brisbane Roar in a tense Hyundai A-League Semi-Final against Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium.
The man who was the main topic of discussion before the match was still on everyone's lips afterwards as Besart Berisha scored a brilliant goal to seal a 1-0 win for the Brisbane Roar in a tense Hyundai A-League semi-final at Suncorp Stadium.
The result means the Premiers Plate winners progress to the Grand Final, while the Victory's campaign is over thanks to the effervescent Albanian striker, who will be joining them next season. Berisha had been berated by his team-mates earlier in the game for not recycling the ball enough, but none of them were complaining when he went on a scintillating solo run in the 58th minute before firing home his 12th goal of the season.
The match ended in high drama as the Victory mounted an all-out injury time assault on the Brisbane goal, which somehow they failed to breach.
Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo was forced into a number of desperate saves, defender Matt Smith survived a strong penalty shout after he dove in to tackle Mark Milligan, and Matt McKay cleared an Archie Thompson effort off the line, in what was a stunning finish.
The penalty incident in particular will be a talking point in the aftermath, with Smith appearing to make some kind of contact with the Victory midfielder as he went down in the box.
Brisbane got off to a bright start to the game, and Dimitri Petratos nearly scored a spectacular spinning back-heeled goal in the fourth minute after the Roar had moved the ball with aplomb from left to right, but the effort slid wide of the post.
The home team looked to have settled into their trademark passing game in the opening stages, but a few nervous touches enabled the Victory to come into the contest and enjoy some solid possession of their own.
The likes of Gui Finkler, Thompson and Kosta Barbarouses worked the ball around with confidence to keep the Brisbane backline on high alert, but Thomas Broich, McKay and company also began to exert their influence on the game.
A sublime pass from the German in the 28 th minute found Berisha, but Nathan Coe darted off his line to smother the chance.
While both sides had their threatening moments, the defences generally remained on top throughout the first half, and the 0-0 scoreline at the break was a fair reflection of the contest.
Troisi attempted to create something out of nothing right after the interval, firing a shot over from long range.
Berisha came much closer in the 51st minute after a turnover of possession, darting in on goal only to have his attempt blocked by Nick Ansell.
The Albanian finally broke through just before the hour mark, setting off on a weaving run from deep on the left before serving away from Ansell's attempted challenge and smashing a shot past Coe at the near post.
The Victory started to look somewhat ragged in defence, as the Roar began to dominate proceedings to a greater extent following the goal.
Petratos and Broich almost combined to double the Brisbane lead, but a scrambling defence was able to clear the danger.
Thompson, who appeared to have faded in the second term, suddenly burst to life with a strong run and shot from wide on the right which Michael Theo tipped over the bar.
Down the other end, Luke Brattan lofted a pass over the top for Berisha, but this time the Albanian snatched his effort wide.
Moments later, Ivan Franjic tried a volley from outside the box but it was easily gathered by Coe, and there was also enough time for Liam Miller to blast over from close range.
Berisha, too, was wasteful in front of goal when McKay crossed to his feet, with Coe blocking his shot.
After the 90 minute mark, the Victory threw everything at the Roar, who were able to hang on through a mixture of luck and desperation.
Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 58') Melbourne Victory 0
Crowd: 28,350 @Suncorp Stadium