A cruel end to another history-making Hyundai A-League season for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Drama seems to be par for the course when it comes to Hyundai A-League Grand Finals at Suncorp Stadium and the latest instalment continued the tradition when a superb NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers fell to Brisbane Roar in extra time.
The Wanderers had already made history before stepping onto the pitch having become the first team in any Australian sport to make their first two Grand Finals after joining an existing league.
The history making looked set to continue when Matthew Spiranovic scored his first ever Hyundai A-League goal to put the Red and Black ahead but a late goal to Besart Berisha followed by an extra time winner to Henrique provided a cruel end to a tightly fought match.
A close contest was generally expected in the build up to the match, and the two teams delivered.
It was the visitors who settled into the game sooner with a series of early Western Sydney corners and free kicks delivered into the box.
An advancing Jerome Polenz galloped into space down the right after 22 minutes then sent a dangerous cross in for Brendon Santalab who could not quite stretch far enough to turn it in.
The Wanderers came very close to breaking the deadlock just before the break when Iacopo La Rocca cut a ball back inside the area which just failed to find the feet of a lurking Youssouf Hersi.
The Wanderers once again came out of the blocks quicker in the second term with Hersi and Shinji Ono combining well in the Brisbane area only for the defence to scramble the ball clear.
It was the Wanderers who broke through with the deserved opening goal from a set piece four minutes before the hour mark when Spiranovic lost Broich, his marker, to angle home Ono’s corner with a powerful header.
Six minutes later the game turned on its head when Western Sydney lost their captain to injury as Nikolai Topor-Stanley twisted his knee when making a challenge on Berisha.
Aaron Mooy replaced Topor-Stanley with joint Joe Marsden Medal winner Iacopo La Rocca dropping into centre back from midfield.
Hersi nearly doubled the Wanderers’ advantage to put the game beyond reach but was unable to scramble in a Tomi Juric cross, and the visitors would be left to rue the miss two minutes later.
Broich and Berisha finally got their combination right with four minutes of regular time remaining with the forward slipping between two defenders to head in the German’s curled free kick.
There was time for chances at both ends before the 90 minutes was up but nobody could break the deadlock and the match went to extra time.
Tired legs ensured there were plenty of gaps for attacking players to exploit once extra time got underway with Hersi getting away attempts on goal.
It was then Haliti’s turn to try his luck. The substitute flew down the left, jinked inside Jade North and sent a firm shot at Theo, who was able to parry.
Henrique eventually broke through with the decisive goal after 108 minutes.
The Brazilian was loitering near the penalty spot when a low pass from the right found him and he blasted the ball into the centre of the net to sound the crowd into raptures.
At the end of the match the Wanderers fans stayed loud and proud to send off their team with Iacopo La Rocca jointly-awarded Player of the Match.
Brisbane Roar 2 (Berisha 86′, Henrique 108′)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Spiranovic 56′)
Crowd: 51,153 @Suncorp Stadium