A-League wrap: Roar reach grand final

Brisbane survived a scare to keep their unbeaten run and qualify for their first A-League grand final in a 2-2 draw with Central Coast Mariners.

In a sensational match at Suncorp Stadium in front of more than 25,000 fans, the Mariners threw everything into the contest, scoring two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half before the Roar showed championship quality to fight back.

Having built a 2-0 lead in the first leg of the major semi-final, the Roar were in trouble before Thomas Broich scored a brilliant individual goal in the 63rd minute and then substitute Henrique set the crowd on fire with an absolute cracker at the end.

The Roar were far from their best, and looked positively flustered at times, in the face of the Mariners’ relentless pace.

In the opening 15 minutes Patricio Perez and Patrick Zwaanswijk both had shots at goal, as Central Coast executed their counter-attack brilliantly.

Triggered into action, the Roar began to press hard for the opener, and Matt McKay was the next to misjudge a shot from a good position.

The Mariners flipped the game on its head in the 39th minute when McBreen saw his shot deflected by keeper Michael Theoklitos into Matt Smith and then into the back of the net.

And then, just 60 seconds later, the unthinkable happened, with Oliver Bozanic taking a return pass from Perez and curling a beautiful left-footed shot past Theoklitos and just inside the post.

Brisbane returned from the break making a concerted effort to play a more composed brand of football, but the Mariners continued to stretch the Roar with their fast-running counter-attacks.

But Brisbane have been finding a way to overcome all season, and on 63 minutes Broich manufactured something special.

The midfielder pushed deeper and deeper into the area from the right hand edge, threatening to pass all the way, before firing an audacious shot past with the outside of his foot past the left-hand of Ryan.

Spurred by the goal, and with Henrique providing some spark, Brisbane began to up the tempo, matching the Mariners’ effort and going tit for tat in an exciting period of play.

The Mariners threw everything into the contest, giving the crowd some nervous moments in the dying stages, but despite their best efforts Brisbane were able to hold.

Just as the unbeaten streak looked a certainty, substitutes Massimo Murdocca and Henrique combined in style. Henrique’s shot was a pearl, and it had to be to beat Ryan, who was in brilliant touch.