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Apr 22, 2012

Roar beat Perth in A-League grand final

Brisbane Roar produced a second straight dramatic grand final comeback to become the first club to successfully defend their A-League crown.

The Roar triumphed 2-1 over spirited underdogs Perth Glory after Brisbane striker Besart Berisha scored two goals in the final 10 minutes of play.

Brisbane, who came from 2-0 down against Central Coast in last season's decider, again scored in the last minute of play at Suncorp Stadium following a dubious penalty awarded by referee Jarred Gillett.

Gillett pointed to the spot after Berisha fell in the penalty area as he scrambled for the ball with three Glory defenders.

"I feel like I've been robbed there with the decision, it cost us the grand final," said Glory skipper Jacob Burns.

"You could see plain as day ... you could see it by Berisha's reaction.

"I'm just gutted."

Perth, who had won 12 of their last 16 matches, had been set to cap a remarkable season turnaround after going ahead in the 51st minute with an own goal from Roar defender Ivan Franjic.

They held their lead until Berisha's spectacular equaliser in the 84th minute, with the Albanian heading home a pin-point cross from Thomas Broich.

Glory defender Dean Heffernan was sent off at the start of injury time after receiving his second yellow card.

Broich was named player of the match to win the Joe Marsden Medal ahead of Burns and Perth goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who produced a string of clutch saves throughout the grand final.

Against the form book, it was the Glory who looked the more confident and composed outfit in the opening exchanges and choked the Roar's slick passing game.

Brisbane were also hampered by a below-par home pitch which was showing the affects of a heavy schedule of NRL, Super Rugby and soccer matches in the past month.

But the Roar's nerves subsided and they gradually built into the decider to hold most possession before finishing the first half with an unrewarded flurry.

Mitch Nichols had the first shot on goal in the 37th minute from a sharp Shane Stefanutto cross but Vukovic was well positioned.

A-League Golden Boot Besart Berisha showed his disgust with the surface when he botched a gilt-edged chance two minutes later with an errant swing in the box.

Franjic then brought the sell-out 50,334-strong crowd to their feet with a booming low drive which looked set to strike paydirt before Vukovic expertly dived to his right and pushed it just wide.

The Roar continued their momentum after the break with Broich blasting a close-range shot at Vukovic but only a minute later the ball was in the net at the other end.

Billy Mehmet produced a fine run through the middle of the ground before finding Travis Dodd out on the right and the veteran fired in two crosses, the second of which deflected off a shattered Franjic.

The victory made Brisbane mentor Ange Postecoglou the most successful coach in Australian domestic soccer history as he now has four national titles, including two with South Melbourne in the old NSL.

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