Melbourne City FC missed an opportunity to move into second place on the Hyundai A-League table after falling to a 3-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.
An energetic first-half performance from the Roar saw John van’t Schip’s side fall to a 2-0 deficit at the break, courtesy of a Patrick Kisnorbo own goal and a strike to Brandon Borrello.
City rallied in the second-half and a comeback looked to be on the cards when Bruno Fornaroli netted his 10th goal of the Hyundai A-League season with a neat finish in the 49th minute.
But the home side stood firm and wrapped up the three points in injury time, when Henrique steered home a long-range effort into an unguarded net, with City ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen caught up-field after pushing forward for a corner.
Following a memorable win in the Melbourne Derby last week, Head Coach John van’t Schip named the same an unchanged starting XI, while youth team graduate Stefan Zinni made his first-team return on the substitute’s bench in place of Hernan Espindola.
With both sides playing for the outright second position on the Hyundai A-League table, it was Brisbane who began the first-half at a furious pace, with Thomas Broich firing a tame effort at Thomas Sorensen after capitalising on a turnover from Patrick Kisnorbo.
Sorensen showed great awareness to snuff out another dangerous opening in the 16th minute, rushing out of his area to flick the ball from the boot of the onrushing Broich, before making two crucial saves to prevent City from falling behind.
Another penetrating attack from the Roar saw the Great Dane palm away a drilled cross from Dimitri Petratos with a strong right hand, before recovering quickly to make a stunning reaction save from a searing Broich volley which was destined for the roof of the net.
City soon clicked into gear and began to overcome the ferocious defensive press employed by Brisbane, with Aaron Mooy driving an effort through a sea of defenders and forcing Roar ‘keeper Jamie Young into a smart save with his legs.
If there was one player to spark City into action in the final third, it was going to be Fornaroli. The Uruguayan star suddenly burst into life in the 22nd minute, crashing a driven cross from Ivan Franjic into the side netting – via a minute deflection off Brisbane defender Daniel Bowles.
The league’s top scorer was presented with two golden opportunities to fire City into the lead, first latching on to a neat pass from Erik Paartalu and placing a side-footed effort that was beaten away by Young, before agonisingly flashing the rebound across the goal-line.
City would be made to pay for the missed opportunity only two minutes later – albeit in unfortunate circumstances – when Kisnorbo’s stray boot deflected the ball past a stranded Sorensen to give Brisbane a 1-0 lead.
And the Roar completed an excellent first-half performance with a crucial second goal just minutes before the half-time break. A clever reverse pass from Dimitri Petratos found the run of Borrello, who beat Sorensen hard and low at the near post to double the advantage.
Facing a two goal deficit and a growing gap at the top of the league table, City came out swinging in the second-half and found a path back into the contest only four minutes after the restart.
A long goal-kick from Sorensen saw Harry Novillo release Fornaroli on goal with a neat flick on header, who showed great composure to round Young and tap home into an empty net to reduce the deficit.
It took a vital punch from Young to prevent Fornaroli from nodding Aaron Mooy's curling cross into the back of the net only three minutes later, before City nearly capitalised on a moment of indecision at the back to level proceedings.
An errant pass saw Stefan Mauk burst forward and play a driven cross into the penalty area, but Fornaroli couldn’t generate enough power to divert his cross past young with a clever back-heell.
Brisbane continued to threaten on the break through the dangerous Jamie Maclaren, with the striker first curling an effort wide of the post, before being thwarted by the onrushing Sorensen after latching onto a deft pass from substitute Javi Hervas.
City continued to throw everything they could at Brisbane and substitute Robi Koren nearly levelled the scores in sensational fashion only seven minutes from time, launching an effort from outside the area which beat Young, only to cannon off the crossbar.
But as van’t Schip’s side threw numbers forward in search of a late equalizer – including ‘keeper Sorensen - Henrique sealed the points in injury time to put an end City's four match winning streak.
Hyundai A-League Round 12
Sunday, 27 December 2015
Brisbane Roar 3 (Patrick KISNORBO 32’ [OG], Brandon BORRELLO 40’, HENRIQUE 90’)
Melbourne City FC 1 (Bruno FORNAROLI 49’)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Melbourne City FC line-up: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 8. Aaron MOOY, 9. Harry NOVILLO (Stefan ZINNI 75’), 18. Paulo RETRE (David WILLIAMS 80’), 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 21. Stefan MAUK (Robert KOREN 69’), 22. Jack CLISBY, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C).
Substitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 3. Aaron HUGHES,
Yellow cards: Novillo 58’, Retre 58’
Brisbane Roar line-up: 21. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 3. Shane STEFFANUTO, 7. CORONA, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 86’), 13. Jade NORTH, 14. Daniel BOWLES, 17. Matthew MCKAY, 19. Jack HINGERT, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS (Javier HERVAS 77’), 28. Brandon BORRELLO (HENRIQUE 65’)
Substitutes not used: 36. Andre JANNESE (GK), 15. James DONACHIE,
Yellow cards: Bowles 58’, North 58’
Red cards: nil