The Wellington Phoenix's five-match unbeaten sequence in the A-League has come to end at the home of the title favourites as the Brisbane Roar extended their stranglehold over their rivals with a last-gasp 2-1 victory at Suncorp Stadium last night.
Despite suspended dangerman Albanian striker Besart Berisha watching from the stands, the Roar provisionally inflated their lead to eight points over the Western Sydney Wanderers as they recorded their fifth successive victory against the dogged Wellingtonians.
The Phoenix had taken two points from a possible 30 when visiting the two-time champions and any prospect of breakthrough victory was dashed when a Luke Brattan screamer in the 87th minute condemned the New Zealanders to their second agonising loss to Brisbane - they also conceded a late winner in the opening round.
Buoyed by a 5-0 drubbing of the Melbourne Victory in the previous round, the Phoenix were hoping to add another notable scalp to their resurgence but had to settle for staying in ninth position - though they are still in contention for the post season.
While the Roar covered the loss of Berisha's strike power and the experience of injured duo Matt McKay and Liam Miller, the Phoenix's creativity was also compromised by Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham's international commitments with Costa Rica.
Stein Huysegems secured a deserved lead for the Phoenix in the 36th minute - and became the league's outright top scorer on eight - when he tapped in a shot-cum-cross by Jeremy Brockie after excellent build-up by the All White and Tyler Boyd.
Wellington had threatened to score in the 11th minute when Vince Lia was denied his first goal of the season by a post after his left foot strike ricocheted back into play.
Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo then came to rescue when he parried first time strike by Jason Hicks 10 minutes before the opener while Brockie also had an angled volley nudged behind for a corner as the Phoenix pressed without reward.
Brisbane should have taken an early lead when Dimitri Petratos nodded a free header wide in the third minute via a Thomas Broich cross.
The German playmaker was generally well contained during the opening half but gave a glimpse of class in the final minute when his long-range strike bent on to the crossbar with Glen Moss grasping at thin air.
Wellington were fortunate the influential midfielder was not in front of goal in the dying stages of a dramatic end to the spell when unmarked Brazilian Henrique inexplicably sliced a teasing Petratos cross wide from inside the six-yard box as Moss stood transfixed.
Henrique made amends for that glaring miss five minutes after the restart when he chested a cross into the path of 18-year-old debutant Devante Clut who teed up an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box.
The teenager's excellent finish underscored a Brisbane revival that should have yielded a second goal but Henrique's header was too soft to worry Moss, who then sprinted out of his box to deflect the goal-bound South American's hurried connection on the hour mark.
Brisbane's anxious fan base thought Petratos had broken the deadlock in the 67th minute when Moss spilled a tame shot from Diogo Ferreira but he was ruled marginally offside as he leapt in celebration.
Henrique also had a bicycle kick nodded onto the crossbar and a penalty appeal turned down before the Roars' anguish finally translated to joy when Brattan provided a contender for goal of the season when he scythed the ball through a mass of bodies.
Wellington, who were affected by the heat as the game progressed, return to cooler climes today where they prepare to host Adelaide at Eden Park on Saturday.
Brisbane Roar 2 (Devante Clut 50, Luke Brattan 87) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Stein Huysegems 36). HT: 0-1
- Fairfax Media
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