Roar blow chance for point against City
A RARE penalty miss from veteran striker Massimo Maccarone cost the Roar dearly last night as Melbourne City held on for a 2-1 win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 after Maccarone had earlier given Brisbane the lead, City fought back with goals from Marcin Budzinski and Stefan Mauk to move within four points of second-placed Newcastle, and prove there is life after goal-machine Ross McCormack.
Aiming for a third successive A-League win, the Roar instead suffered their 10th defeat of the campaign to lose their spot in the top six.
Maccarone had a chance to at least earn Brisbane a point after teammate Fahid Ben Khalfallah was brought down in the penalty area by City skipper Michael Jakobsen.
However, the 38-year-old former Italian international's weak 78th-minute spot kick was well saved by City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, who produced a man-of-the-match performance.
"Maccarone, he's scored penalties his whole career," Roar coach John Aloisi said.
"I haven't seen him miss a penalty in training and he takes them all the time, so unfortunate, (but) players miss penalties.
"I'm not going to blame him for the loss. We win as a team, we lose as a team, and tonight we weren't ruthless enough in front of goal."
Maccarone's miss wasn't the only spot-kick drama, with the Roar unlucky not to be awarded a first-half penalty after Jack Hingert went down under the challenge of City's Osama Malik.
But video assistant referee Kris Griffiths-Jones opted against over-ruling referee Jonathan Barreiro's decision to allow play to continue.
"I think everyone saw that it was a penalty," Aloisi said.
"VAR made a decision it wasn't, so have to accept it … we moved on. Hopefully next time we get that one.
"We scratch our heads sometimes. It's happened so often this year, I tell my players just to get on with it, don't even think twice."
The Roar had gone ahead in 14th minute through Maccarone, who headed home an Eric Bautheac free-kick to score his ninth goal in all competitions this season.
But their joy was short-lived, with City equalising five minutes later through Polish import Budzinski.
The goal was set up by teenage prodigy Daniel Arzani, who threaded a sublime Brisbane's defence to find Budzinski, who did the rest.
Arzani should have put visitors in front a minute later, but with only Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young to beat, dragged his shot wide.
City had another golden chance to go ahead minutes later through former Roar midfielder Dario Vidosic but his header was cleared off the line by Maccarone.
The contest continued at a lively pace, with Bouzanis denying Holman in the 30th minute before again coming to City's rescue eight minutes later when he kept out a Maccarone header.
City's winner came in the 66th minute through Mauk.
ROAR WRAP UP 1-LEAGUE TITLE
BRISBANE Roar have lifted their first piece of W-League silverware since 2013, sealing the premiership with a 4-1 win over Canberra United at Suncorp Stadium.
The Roar needed a point to guarantee themselves top spot on the ladder after Sydney FC had beaten Western Sydney by the same scoreline in yesterday's earlier game.
Matildas star Hayley Raso gave the hosts the lead in the 11th minute.
Attacker Emily Gielnik doubled their advantage in the 40th.
Brisbane sealed their win in the 72nd through substitute Abbey Lloyd.
Elise Thorsnes got Canberra on the scoreboard two minutes later but Lloyd completed the rout with her second of the afternoon in the 90th.
Skipper Clare Polkinghorne was thrilled with the Roar's turnaround after finishing seventh on the ladder last season.
"One of the key differences from last season was consistency and hanging in those close games and coming away with three points when it usually would have been a loss or a draw," Polkinghorne said.
The Roar now switch their focus to the finals. They will host fourth-placed Melbourne City on Sunday at Perry Park, with the other sudden-death semi-final taking place on Saturday between Sydney and Newcastle.
"You want to be playing the best teams in the final four," Polkinghorne said.