Harry Kewell, of the Victory, and Matthew Jurman, of the Roar, challenge for the ball during the round 13 A-League match at Suncorp Stadium yesterday.BRISBANE – A-League champions Brisbane Roar emphatically snapped their five-match losing streak and ended Melbourne Victory’s annus horribilis with a painful 3-1 defeat last night.
Not even a magic third-minute goal by Harry Kewell could put a smile on Victory faces as the Roar rediscovered their mojo in dramatic fashion at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane ran rampant over the visitors after they turned the game in an incredible 10-minute blitz which netted three quality goals to the delight of the 14,852-strong crowd.
With wing-back Ivan Franjic starring in a modified formation, the injury-depleted Roar broke the shackles after playmaker Mitch Nichols finally found the back of the net just before halftime.
While Brisbane had continued to dominate possession in their run of defeats, they’d lost the precision finishing that was a hallmark of their national record 36-match unbeaten streak.
Nichols’s brilliant header sparked a burst which included goals to Rocky Visconte and Franjic off the back of some inspired passing by striker Besart Berisha.
Franjic’s 53rd-minute goal prompted an animated celebration by usually reserved coach Ange Postecoglou, who had been under pressure to tweak his possession-at-all-costs game.
Postecoglou’s joy was in marked contrast to Melbourne’s torment as fuming Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez kicked over his chair and a water bottle after being replaced.
The result couldn’t have been predicted when Kewell struck his first goal from open play after 11 matches in the A-League.
Although the Socceroos star has been well off his best for Melbourne, the spectacular strike was worth the wait.
The match was only 122 seconds old when the 33-year-old Kewell latched on to a backpass missed by Roar skipper Matt Smith and swiftly took it towards the box where he unleashed a booming left-footer that gave a diving Micheal Theoklitos no chance.
Coming at a time when Kewell’s position in the Melbourne forward line is being questioned due to his fading pace, it was the perfect riposte by the marquee man.
But it was the only moment of inspiration for the Victory in the opening half as third-placed Brisbane dominated possession and had nine shots on goal to one before Nichols struck gold.
Man-of-the-match Franjic was outstanding throughout, tormenting a Victory defence missing captain Adrian Leijer (groin).
“A performance like that, after going 1-0 down, just shows the courage and character of the boys,” Franjic said. “It’s just great.”
In other matches yesterday, bottom-placed Gold Coast ruined the Central Coast’s New Year’s Eve party when they halted the Mariners’ six-match winning streak in front of their biggest home crowd of the season.
The A-League’s table-toppers were held to a 0-0 draw in a clash that lacked fireworks in front of a bumper 14,838-strong crowd at Gosford.
In Newcastle, Perth Glory fought for most of the match a man down but held on for a 1-1 draw in the A-League clash with the Jets.
ROUND 13 RESULTS:
MELBOURNE HEART 4 (Eli Babalj 32m, Mate Dugandzic 45+1m, Jason Hoffman 77m, Alex Terra 84m) bt SYDNEY FC 0 at Sydney Football Stadium. Crowd: 16,007. Referee: Peter Green.
ADELAIDE UNITED 2 (Bruce Djite 17m, Anthony Golec 62m) bt WELLINGTON PHOENIX 0 at Hindmarsh Stadium. Crowd: 9739. Referee: Chris Beath.
NEWCASTLE JETS 1 (Francis Jeffers 62m) drew PERTH GLORY 1 (Billy Mehmet 9m) at Ausgrid Stadium. Crowd: 10,439. Referee: Strebre Delovski.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 0 drew GOLD COAST UNITED 0 at Bluetongue Stadium. Crowd: 14,838. Referee: Ryan Shepheard.
BRISBANE ROAR 3 (Mitch Nichols 44m, Rocky Visconte 50m, Ivan Franjic 53m) bt MELBOURNE VICTORY 1 (Harry Kewell 3m) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 14,852. Referee: Jarred Gillett.
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