Brisbane Roar ends Heart's A-League finals bid

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 22:40 24/03/2013
Besart Berisha
GETTY IMAGES
DANGER MAN: Brisbane Roar's Besart Berisha.

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Finals footy remains in sight for the Brisbane Roar but the Melbourne Heart's top six hopes have flat-lined after going down 2-0 to the defending A-League champions at Suncorp Stadium this evening.

The Heart had to win in Brisbane to stay alive in the tight finals race but it was the Roar who looked like a side desperate for a result in front of 9869 fans.

A spirited Roar (32 points) jumped from eighth to fifth spot on the congested A-League ladder with one regular season round left while the Heart (27 points) bowed out of the top six hunt with a whimper.

It added to the Heart's sorry reputation as A-League road kill.

Remarkably it has not won outside Melbourne since December 2011.

The Heart arrived at Suncorp Stadium on a three-game losing run and were without four key players, including injured Brazilian playmaker Fred.

Yet Heart coach John Aloisi was hopeful of launching an unlikely finals tilt in Brisbane thanks to its five-game unbeaten run against the Roar including 4-1 and 3-2 victories this season - albeit at AAMI Park.

But there was no denying the Roar, who drew first blood when Besart Berisha found the back of the net from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after Samuel Mitchinson's clumsy challenge on Brisbane defender Ivan Franjic.

Mitch Nichols was a constant threat but it was Roar captain Thomas Broich who doubled the lead with a 25-metre wonder strike in the 31st minute.

Midfielder Steven Lustica also had his chances but the Roar's best scoring opportunity of the second half came through Stef Nijland who was denied by the goal-post after beating Heart 'keeper Andrew Redmayne in the 76th minute.

Despite being without key defender Jade North, who was selected for the World Cup qualifier against Oman in Sydney on Tuesday, the Roar put up a brick wall against the Heart.

Roar 'keeper Michael Theo pulled off his sole save of the match in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The Roar will learn its finals fate after it hosts fellow top six hopeful Sydney FC on Thursday night.

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- AAP

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