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Sydney FC 0 Brisbane Roar 2

Last season’s champions continued their impressive start to the 2011/12 season, outclassing Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium to win 2-0.

Sydney were determined to make an impression in their first home game and had a chance early, Nick Carle finding himself free on the left but choosing to cut the ball back rather than shoot, thereby allowing Brisbane to avert the danger. James Meyer responded at the other end, testing former Brisbane keeper Liam Reddy with his left foot.

Brisbane weathered the early Sydney pressing and settled into the ascendancy. Reddy was well placed to hold a back-post header from Erik Paartalu following a rehearsed Brisbane corner on 18 minutes; at the other end, Bruno Cazarine missed an excellent chance, volleying over the bar from close range following confusion in the Brisbane box.

On 25 minutes Carle pulled off the sort of pass that the fans have come to expect of him, a delightful reverse ball into the path of Terry Antonis’ diagonal run; the youngster forced Michael Theoklitos to tip the ball over the bar. Brisbane, despite their domination of possession, were looking distinctly rattled at times.
Bruno Cazarine raced onto another through-ball from Carle in the 38th minute, and a desperate clearance was needed from Ivan Franjic. The initiative had quite palpably changed hands, and Franjic was called into action again when a superb diagonal pass from Antonis almost reached an onrushing Brett Emerton on the right.

Against the run of the play, Brisbane scored the opening goal on 42 minutes. Some intricate play from the away side on the left saw the ball reach Paartalu; letting fly with his left foot, the Brisbane midfield anchorman forced an unsighted Reddy into a one-handed save, but Besart Berisha was on hand to tap home the rebound.

The Roar almost scored a second as the first half entered added time, an insidious pass from Thomas Broich releasing Meyer, whose angled shot dribbled just wide of the far post.

The second half began with another golden chance for Sydney. Broich, uncharacteristically casual in the Brisbane midfield, gave the ball away in his own third, and in the ensuing play Cazarine released Carle perfectly on the right. Sydney’s No.10 was on his wrong foot, however, and Theoklitos managed to force him wide to smother the chance.

Paartalu headed wide from a half-cleared corner on 52 minutes, and a good interchange between Mitch Nichols and Meyer resulted in a chance for the former some three minutes later, Reddy using his body to good effect to save. Some fluency was returning to Brisbane’s play.

Dimitri Petratos came on for Cazarine, as Vitezslav Lavicka attempted to spark Sydney’s attack into renewed life. Ange Postecoglou made a positive move of his own, introducing former Sydney player Kofi Danning to replace a tiring Meyer. On too came the hard-running Massimo Murdocca, replacing a strangely ineffectual Issay Nakajima-Farran.

It was the pace of Danning on the right that brought Brisbane the clincher on 71 minutes. A neat pass from Nichols gave the substitute the freedom of the right touchline, and a sharp cutback was dummied by two Brisbane players before Thomas Broich’s powerful right foot fired the ball past Reddy and into the far corner of the Sydney goal.

Brisbane’s slick possession football was now utterly dominant, and only some over-elaboration in the box prevented Postecoglou’s men from adding to their score, as the Sydney heads dropped. Emerton had the chance to make up for a very disappointing night on 83 minutes when he received the ball on the edge of the Brisbane box following some aerial pinball, but he sent a feeble shot straight at Theoklitos.

In the final minute of normal time Petratos finally worked his way in behind the Brisbane defence, but his right-footed cross-shot failed to bring Theoklitos into action. It was the last attempt of note, and Brisbane could look back on an evening’s work well done.

Winless Sydney now head to Adelaide for a daunting clash with a side gelling quickly, while Brisbane will try to make it three from three against Gold Coast United at home on Friday