Brisbane Roar edge Adelaide United in top-of-the-table clash
More than 14,000 fans saw Jean Carlos Solorzano net his 10th goal of the season in the 69th minute with a neat left-foot finish that gave the Roar their 14th win of the season.
The victory also took the Roar's unbeaten run to 19 matches and notched their third win in their last four to help stretch the lead at the summit of the A-League table to 11 points over the Reds who endured a fourth loss in the past five matches.
Brisbane are now within striking distance of sewing up the Premier's Plate with six matches remaining in their regular season.
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Crowd: 14,420 Referee: Matthew Breeze Yellow cards:AU - Robert Cornthwaite 90' BR - Mitch Nichols 37', Milan Susak 40'
The Reds had an early chance when Sergio van Dijk was the recipient of a Milan Susak error but his shot was only deflected into the arms of a waiting Michael Theoklitos in the third minute.
Less than two minutes later, Reds full-back Cassio struck the post with his left-footed shot in what was a major let off for the visitors
The Roar midfield were making some uncharacteristic blunders without skipper Matt McKay as the home side had the better of the early play until the visitors kicked into gear in the mid-stages of the first half.
The 21st minute saw a first-time shot from Mitch Nichols after a one-two with Kosta Barbarouses but his attempt went wide of the mark although not without worry from Adelaide keeper Mark Birighitti.
Brisbane were really stepping it up as they began to make life tough for the Adelaide defence and they were very close to an opening goal when Jean Carlos Solorzano supplied a low cross from the right which ricocheted off Birighitti and into a Reds defender but Iain Fyfe was there to turn and clear off the line.
The opening half swiftly came to a close, indicating that the match was full of action although neither side were able to force a goal although it looked very promising for the second term.
Adelaide came out firing in the early stages of the second half as the Roar failed to look as menacing as they usually do until Nichols had another good chance, this time in the 59th minute, when he tried an overhead after Barbarouses' shot was saved by Birighitti's legs but unfortunately for the visitors it went inches over the crossbar.
The game was evenly poised with both sides enjoying equal amounts of possession after the hour-mark and it was clear that both coaches were not about to settle for a scoreless draw as Ange Postecoglou brought on Brazilian winger Henrique for his first piece of action since he broke his arm on September 12 and Rini Coolen deployed skipper Travis Dodd to provide some spark for the Reds.
GOAL And it was first blood to Brisbane in the 69th minute when Nichols played a ball in the direction of Solorzano which deflected off Fyfe, straight into the path of the Costa Rican, and he was able to tuck it past Birighitti with his left foot for goal number 10 of the season.
The final 20 minutes was now set up for a grandstand finish and it provided a close call from Henrique just under 15 minutes from time when he took on Cameron Watson down the left flank only to see his enticing cross hit the post. In the 79th minute, it was Adelaide who came close when Sergio van Dijk's header from the back post looped dangerously to the goalmouth but Theoklitos got a finger nail to it to do enough to but off Nigel Boogaard who was lurking menacingly.
There was action all over the park but it was mainly down Adelaide's end as they pushed desperately for a leveler and they were only inches away when Fyfe saw Theoklitos off his line and tried to chip the gloveman. His attempt looped onto the crossbar with some help from the Roar keeper and went out for a corner in what was becoming a frantic finish.
There were shouts for a handball when a header in the Adelaide area deflected onto the arm of Solorzano but referee Matthew Breeze let play go and it ended up with yet another win for the league leaders who host Perth Glory on Friday, January 7 in their next outing whilst Adelaide meet arch nemesis Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday the 9th.
AU Mark Birighitti (gk), Cassio (Barbiero 78'), Nigel Boogaard (Cornthwaite 85'), Iain Fyfe, Cameron Watson, Joe Keenan, Paul Reid, Adam Hughes (Dodd 67'), Marcos Flores, Iain Ramsay, Sergio van Dijk
Subs - Eugene Galekovic (gk), Travis Dodd (67'), Fabian Barbiero (78'), Robert Cornthwaite (85')
BR Michael Theoklitos (gk), Shane Stefanutto, Matt Smith, Luke DeVere, Milan Susak, Massimo Murdocca (Henrique 67'), Erik Paartalu, Mitch Nichols, Kosta Barbarouses (Mundy 90+4'), Jean Carlos Solorzano, Rocky Visconte (Brattan 46')
Subs - Andrew Redmayne (gk), Luke Brattan (46'), Henrique (67'), Matt Mundy (90+4')