A fortuitous final minute strike from Ivan Franjic has guided Brisbane to a perfect start to their A-League campaign following a 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix in the New Zealand capital on Sunday.
In a madcap scramble to a sometimes stilted encounter, Franjic turned the ball into a near empty near after Thomas Broich’s strike cannoned off the post and fell for the right-sided attacker amidst a crowded penalty spot.
The game-winning goal capped off an industrious performance for the fringe Socceroos international, who also played the final pass for Besart Berisha’s second half equaliser as well as striking the post in each half.
Earlier, Stein Huysegems gave Wellington a deserved lead nearing the half hour when he poked the ball past Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo to the clear delight of the 9000-strong Kiwi crowd.
The heavily depleted Phoenix outfit was missing six first team regulars yet started the better of the sides as Brisbane struggled to find their rhythm against a high-pressing Phoenix front line in the opening 20 minutes.
Newly acquired Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham demonstrated he will be a handful this season with some encouraging combination play, while fellow Central American Carlos Hernandez also asserted his influence on the contest early.
Huysegems opener came on 20 minutes, the 31 year old Belgian beating Theo with a toe-poke after Michael Boxall nodded Ben Sigmund’s long ball into the striker’s path.
Franjic waltzed into the Phoenix penalty area minutes later and backed himself only to see his shot bounce behind off the near post. While Berisha started making inroads behind the Phoenix line only to see his efforts shank wide.
Cunningham was denied by a reflex save from the advancing Theo with five minutes remaining in the half, before Roar thought they had levelled terms when Berisha headed home from Franjic’s cross from an offside position.
Roar made amends immediately after the restart when a trademark Franjic cutback from the byline found Berisha, who was left with the simplest of finishes after Spoonley was drawn to the near post by Franjic’s run.
With the momentum favouring the visitors, Brisbane fashioned a handful of half chances before Franjic was denied by a desperate Spoonley save on the edge of the area on 53 minutes.
Two Phoenix counter attacks either side of the hour mark proved frustrating for the hosts as Hernandez couldn’t keep his curling effort down and Huysegums forced a splendid save from Theo on the angle.
A brain snap from the Roar custodian minutes later saw Brisbane’s goal left unguarded, however captain Matt Smith’s telling header defused Paul Ifill’s cross into the six yard box.
It appeared to be a frustrating afternoon for Franjic when he headed on to the crossbar from six yards with fifteen minutes remaining, however he proved to be johnny-on-the-spot in injury time to seal the three points.
Roar sit in third position on the A-League table on goal difference after the opening round of fixtures. They will welcome fellow first-up winner Sydney FC to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night in their first home game of the campaign.