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Jan 15, 2012

A-League panel faces call on ugly melee

Inflict a black eye, or turn a blind eye?

That's the decision the A-League match review panel must make after a chaotic post-match melee ended a remarkable Brisbane Roar win over Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

It turned a thing of beauty ugly after the Roar trailed by a goal entering injury time, then won 2-1 with a superb Mohamed Adnan free-kick and Besart Berisha's header with the last play of the match.

But emotions got out of control when Berisha took his shirt off following the winner and invited Sydney defender Pascal Bosschaart into the players tunnel to settle their differences.

Berisha then ran from the field and officials and players converged into chaos on the sideline.

Though the post-match scenes looked bad, the lack of any real physical altercation will make the issue an interesting one for the A-League match review panel on Monday.

They must decide whether Berisha's tapping a rival on the arm and motioning him off the field, plus a variety of players and officials restraining others, constitutes bringing the game into disrepute.

And a harsh penalty on currently available evidence would risk relegating one of the A-League's most gripping contests to the melee's post-script.

Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou admitted Albanian international Berisha should not have behaved that way but questioned whether any action needed to be taken.

"No one got hurt last night and no punches were thrown," Postecoglou said on Sunday.

"Apart from people getting really excited about some minor issues I thought it was great theatre and we need rivalry.

"There's a line that shouldn't be crossed. We got close to it, but I don't think anyone really went over that line last night."

Regardless of what happens to Berisha, the Roar reignited their title charge with the win - moving to a clear second and closing the gap on ladder leaders Central Coast Mariners to six points.

The Mariners drew 1-1 with Newcastle Jets at Gosford on Saturday night.

Both the top two were helped by Perth Glory beating third-placed Melbourne Heart 2-1 on Sunday, leaving the Mariners nine points clear of missing the double chance.

A rare second-half mistake by Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton gifted the Glory three points as midfielder Steven McGarry banged in the winner for the visitors.

In Sunday's other match, Wellington Phoenix beat Gold Coast 1-0 at Skilled Park with a last-gasp Tim Brown winner.

On Friday night, Melbourne Victory drew with Adelaide United 1-1.

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