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Roar comes back to win a thriller

Jamie Maclaren (right) celebrates scoring a goal against the Phoenix.
Jamie Maclaren (right) celebrates scoring a goal against the Phoenix. DAN PELED

BRISBANE Roar will head into the A-League finals series with a ton of momentum after fighting back from two goals down to beat Wellington Phoenix 4-3 in a thriller at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.

Down 3-1 at half-time, the Roar stormed home, scoring three unanswered second-half goals to ensure they will enter the first week of the finals on a high.

The victory ensured Brisbane would finish the regular season in no worse than fourth spot and host an elimination final this Friday or Saturday night.

The Roar had to wait until the end of last night's late game between Perth Glory and Melbourne City to discover whether they would play the Glory, City or Western Sydney Wanderers in week one of the finals.

Brisbane's remarkable comeback could have been more emphatic had star striker Jamie Maclaren converted from the penalty spot in the 76th minute.

But his failed effort left him on 19 goals for the A-League season, equal in first spot in the Golden Boot race with Melbourne Victory's former Roar striker Besart Berisha.

Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli was on 17 goals heading into his side's clash against the Glory.

Maclaren did manage a goal in the game, but it was former Socceroo Brett Holman who stole the show with two crackers. Brandon Borrello scored the Roar's other goal.

However, it was the Phoenix who grabbed the lead in the sixth minute through their Fijian striker Roy Krishna.

Running on to a Gui Finkler through ball, Krishna got the better of young Roar defender Cameron Crestani - who started in place of the injured Jack Hingert - before finishing sweetly past goalkeeper Michael Theo.

The visitors continued to attack and it was only the woodwork that prevented them from doubling their lead in the 13th minute when Michael McGlinchey's sizzling strike smashed into the crossbar.

Stung into action, the Roar felt they had legitimate claims for a penalty four minutes later when Maclaren went to ground under the challenge of Vince Lia.

But referee Kris Griffith-Jones waved play on, and the video assistant referee Chris Beath didn't intervene.

The Roar didn't drop their heads, and were back on level terms in the 21st minute thanks to a superb long-distance strike from Brett Holman that was too good for Phoenix keeper Lewis Italiano.

Just when it seemed the Roar had taken control of the contest, the Phoenix scored twice in the space of three minutes.

Wellington regained the lead in the 38th minute when some shoddy Roar defending allowed Krishna and McGlinchey to combine and set-up the unmarked Finkler, who made no mistake from close range.

Worse was to follow for the hosts when the Phoenix increased their lead in the 41st minute.

Playing just his third A-League match, Crestani fluffed his attempt to clear a Finkler cross, with McGlinchey pouncing to ensure the Kiwi club led 3-1 at half-time.

Whatever Roar coach John Aloisi said at the break worked wonders because less than 10 minutes into the second half, scores were level.

Borrello scored the Roar's second in the 51st minute, unleashing with a curling strike from distance that beat an outstretched Italiano.

Two minutes later it was 3-3. Tommy Oar was the provider, laying the ball off to Maclaren, who fired home to score his 50th A-League goal.

The Roar wasn't finished, and took the lead for the first time in the match in the 67th minute when Holman produced his second stunner of the night, finding the bottom corner with an exquisite long-distance effort.

It should have been 5-3 nine minutes later, but Maclaren's penalty was saved by Italiano.

Topics:  a-league brett holman brisbane roar jamie maclaren wellington phoenix fc

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