Roar power on in A-League
Only a monumental collapse will stop Brisbane Roar from finishing top of the A-League ladder after they extended their lead to 11 points with a 1-0 away win over second-placed Adelaide United on Sunday night.
Costa Rican striker Jean Carlos Solorzano pounced in the 69th minute to give the Roar three points at a packed Hindmarsh Stadium and keep them unbeaten in 19 matches.
The goal set up a gripping last 20 minutes as the Reds - backed noisily by the vast majority of the 14,000 fans at their home ground - threw the lot at the competition's yardstick to no avail.
Roar goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos was the second half hero, making an important late save to keep the Reds at bay.
His airborne one-handed save off the head of Adelaide's Nigel Boogaard denied the Reds in the 79th minute when a goal looked certain.
Reds defender Iain Fyfe, who was excellent throughout, also went close late in the match with a cheeky long-range chip which bounced off the crossbar.
With six matches remaining, the Roar - who have not been beaten since mid-September - should seal the Premier's Plate within their next two games.
They could also seal the double chance and a top two spot in their next match against Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
The Roar are now 15 points clear of third-placed Central Coast Mariners.
While the Mariners, fourth-placed Gold Coast and resurgent Melbourne Victory are locked in battle to finish as high as third, Melbourne Heart ramped up the pressure at the fringe of the top six with a 2-0 win over North Queensland Fury at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Second half goals to John Aloisi and Gerald Sibon allowed the Heart breathing space in sixth place.
They are now four points clear of seventh-placed Wellington Phoenix and steps up the pressure on the Phoenix and eighth-placed Newcastle Jets, who are chasing them for a top six berth.
"It's going to be very close with Victory winning their game against Central Coast (2-1 on New Year's Eve) and Newcastle with games to catch up with, we needed to win," Heart coach John van 't Schip said.
"There was a tension in the team you could see, but we kept organised and disciplined and after the first goal we got more belief."
Wellington play Melbourne Victory on Wednesday, with the Jets taking on Sydney FC on Monday.