January 5, 2014
SENIOR SPORTS REPORTER WITH THE AGE
Liam Miller celebrates Roar’s first half goal. Photo: Pat Scala
Brisbane Roar has become a byword in the Australian game for fast, inventive, creative and thoughtful football.
On Saturday might, Mike Mulvey’s team once again showed, with another high-quality performance, that nobody can quibble about its place at the summit of the local game with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park. The win takes the Queenslanders seven points clear at the top of the table and it is easy to see why they are favourites to win their third championship in four seasons.
On this display it is hard to see any of their rivals, including the well-drilled and highly organised Western Sydney, holding out against a side that can strike with such pace and efficiency.
Victory had its chances early – fatal against a team with the qualities of the Roar, which looked capable of stepping up a gear every time it was challenged after an opening 20 minutes when the host side took the game to it.
In truth, the margin of victory could have been heavier for Brisbane had it converted all of its chances.
After the game Victory coach Kevin Muscat told Fox Sports it was a disappointing game. ”It’s unfortunate because we normally don’t perform like that at home … it’s not like us to just go a goal down and crumble and that’s what I saw tonight, the effort’s just disappeared.”
To make matters worse for Muscat, key midfielder Mitch Nichols has looked out of sorts in the past two games, ever since news of a bid from Japanese club Cerezo Osaka broke. Nichols was substituted at half-time, having failed to have his usual impact on the game.
”At this point of time, discussions remain inside the football club and it’s like every other transfer situation,” Muscat said. The hosts finished the night with only 10 men, playing the last 22 minutes a man short after centre back Adrian Leijer’s dismissal for a second yellow card in the 68th minute.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou was, appropriately, in the stands looking on. His template is to play a fast-paced, passing game supported by a hard-working pressing strategy when his team doesn’t have the ball, and his imprimatur has been clearly stamped on these two sides, both of which he coached before taking on the national team job late last year.
It wasn’t quite looking in a mirror – there are sufficient differences, chiefly in this game Brisbane’s ability to play at a high level for the whole 90 minutes and the impact made by its German midfielder Thomas Broich – but there was a similarity to the overall styles that made for a fascinating, rather than a dull, clash.
Victory could have shaped the game to its advantage inside the opening 10 minutes had Kosta Barbarouses been able to make the best of a gilt-edged opening.
Gui Finkler, restored to the starting line-up for the first time this season, threaded a pass through to the Kiwi frontman whose shot was on target but well saved by Michael Theo. Brisbane had the chance to take the lead shortly afterwards when a Broich cross found Henrique, but his header was saved by Nathan Coe.
Barbarouses again had another opportunity on the quarter hour mark when he took a lofted ball from James Troisi first time, but again Theo was equal. This game was living up to its billing as both sides pressed and probed and tried to retain possession and outpass their opposition.
The opening goal, when it came, was worthy of a top-of-the-table clash, a crisp passing movement begun by former Victory man Diogo Ferreira, Roar’s left back, who got forward and fed Broich. The German’s pass found Liam Miller, who finished cleanly from the right of the penalty area. Roar showed Victory exactly how it is done 10 minutes after the restart when it doubled its advantage through Matt McKay, who started, and then finished a move on the left side of Victory’s penalty area.
The midfielder knocked the ball back to Henrique, who flicked it further back to Miller. McKay had kept on running and when the Irishman played the ball through, McKay was able to get there before Coe and lifted the ball over the keeper and into the empty net.
The three-goal margin was ensured when Dimi Petratos finished off what he had started, collecting a pass inside the area to shoot home in the 67th minute. It was the final nail in the Victory coffin, and the navy blues are now 11 points behind the league leader: it will require an enormous second half of the season to get them anywhere close to the pacesetters.
■In round seven of the W-League, Melbourne Victory ensured it remained firmly on top of the league ladder with a 2-0 win over Western Sydney.
Goals from Caitlin Friend at the 46-minute mark and Beatrice Goad (76) put Victory three points ahead of its nearest rival, the Brisbane Roar, which won 6-2 against Newcastle Jets.
The Sydney Morning Herald