Brisbane Roar: How the west was won

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What a difference a few weeks makes. Back at the beginning of January, Ange Postecoglou was a disgruntled and angry figure both during and after Brisbane Roar were held to a 3-3 draw by Perth Glory at nib Stadium.
Postecoglou, who has a firm philosophy in place at the club, was disgusted that his side had failed to play “their way”, and his emotions were captured perfectly by Fox Sports’ dressing room cameras.
There was no repeat last night at the same venue however as a ruthless Roar easily turned over Perth Glory by three goals to nil.
Besart Berisha showed why he is the Hyundai A-League’s premier marksman, bagging a brace, while it was a mixed night for Henrique who netted the opener before being sent off in the second half for an altercation with Glory skipper Jacob Burns.
“Everyone keeps reminding me about the last time we were here so it’s good to get it out of the way now,” said Postecoglou afterwards.
“We were good tonight, really good. I thought we controlled the game right from the start, we played our type of football.
“It wasn’t easy conditions with the ball zipping around but the boys showed tremendous character by just persisting with our type of game. 
“I think Perth probably tried to push on and press us a little bit but we played through that and were really clinical up front.”
The defeat for Glory means that they have only beaten Roar three times in the last 21 meetings between the two sides.
So how did Brisbane manage to make it look so easy against a side that had won its previous three home games, scoring ten goals in the process?
Full backs played high
Roar looked to be lining up with a conventional four man defensive unit, however in practice it was more like a three man defence. 
One of Ivan Franjic and Shane Stefanutto pushed forward at every opportunity, something made possible by the fact that Glory played just a lone striker in Billy Mehmet.
When the sides last met, Franjic was kept quiet by Mile Sterjovski with the former Socceroo putting in a great shift and helping himself to one of the goals of the season. The roles were completely reversed this time round however with Franjic offering plenty in attack while Sterjovski had to defend much more then he would have liked.
The situation was mirrored on the other side with Stefanutto nullifying the threat of Travis Dodd.
Indeed, there were occasions when both Franjic and Stefanutto pushed on to join the attack, and in this instance it was Erik Paartalu who dropped in to make the back three alongside Mohamed Adnan and Matt Smith.
Paartalu, who was called up to the Socceroos squad for the first time last week, stuck to Glory playmaker Steven McGarry throughout. With Liam Miller absent through injury, McGarry was easily Glory’s most creative talent but his frustrating night ended just after the hour when he was replaced by Andrezinho.
Matt Smith shows solidarity
Roar took their chances
If you don’t shoot you don’t score as the cliché goes. Roar only registered three shots on target (six in total) in the entire game and scored three times. That won’t make for happy reading for Glory keeper Danny Vukovic but there was little he could do about any of the goals as his normally resolute defence left him exposed on a number of occasions.
Through balls, the kind you play using triangle in FIFA on the Playstation, were the order of the day with Berisha setting up Henrique’s first with a great pass to allow the Brazilian round Vukovic and score into an empty net.
The third goal also came from a well executed through ball to Luke Fitzgerald who got in behind Josh Risdon to meet pass and squared the ball to Berisha who tapped home from close range.
Sandwiched in between the first and last goals was one that sums up the Roar philosophy. Goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos, under pressure from a backpass, decided not to pump it long and instead chip a pass neatly to Shane Stefanutto on the wing. The full back in turn calmly played the ball across his goal to Mohamed Adnan who was able to switch the play to the right wing. The result? A quick break down the channel and a pull back across the area where Berisha took control, turned Bas Van den Brink and scored past Vukovic.
In thirty seconds of play we saw yet another example of just how good a side Brisbane are.
White Line Fever hit more than just the Glory players
Glory got it wrong
While Roar were at their clinical best, the home side did themselves no favours in front of an excellent crowd of 10,631. 
They went into the game without Shane Smeltz and Liam Miller but Billy Mehmet and Adam Hughes showed last week against Newcastle that they are perfectly adequate replacements.
Glory simply never got going and, as Bas Van den Brink admitted in the post match press conference, didn’t get stuck in early on.
Ian Ferguson’s substitutions were strange to say the least. With Miller out, Steven McGarry was the team’s playmaker and even though the Scotsman had a difficult night, he was far better than many around him.
The decision to bring left footed left back or left winger Todd Howarth on at right back for Risdon to continue with a defensive four when Roar had ten men was also a head scratcher.
The third and final change came with just a few minutes remaining as Tommy Amphlett was given little time to stake his claims for a place in the side having spent most of the season playing in the youth league.
Maybe tonight was a wakeup call for Glory after a whirlwind few months that has gotten people dreaming of a finals berth. How they bounce back against a struggling Adelaide United on Thursday will tell us a lot about their character as we edge ever closer to finals.
Roar, meanwhile, are getting back to their best and proved a point to doubters who suggest that they are nothing without the influence of injured German Thomas Broich.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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