Roar down Phoenix to extend league lead

AN Ivan Franjic goal has handed Brisbane Roar a 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix, and opened up a handy buffer at the top of the table, in a match played out in blustery conditions at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

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The match looked destined for a draw after a first half-goal to Roar Skipper Matt Smith and a dubious second-half penalty to Wellington Phoenix.

But a wonder strike by Socceroo Franjic sealed all three points for the visitors after teammate Besart Berisha uncharacteristically missed his own penalty attempt.

The result means Ernie Merrick's men are still winless 10-games into the season, with pressure mounting on their finals hopes.

It was mostly one-way traffic as Phoenix carved out a host of good opportunities in the opening half-hour - none better than the one that fell to striker Jeremy Brockie on 25 minutes.

Stein Huysegems with a dangerous foray down the inside left smashed the ball across goal, which Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo could only punch into the path of last season's golden boot contender. But with the goal at his mercy Brockie thundered his effort well over the crossbar.

Merrick's men were punished for their profligacy. An inocuous free kick was delivered deep into the box and Smith surprised Ben Sigmund on his left, out-muscling the defender and squeezing his effort past Phoenix custodian, Glenn Moss on 36 minutes.

Phoenix held off a resurgent Roar outfit and were quickly back on parity after the break. Kenny Cunningham ran into the box and had Jack Hingert breathing down his neck - which was apparently enough to bring down the Costa Rican international.

There was precious little contact but referee Shaun Evans pointed to the spot and Carlos Hernandez stepped up. Theo guessed the right way but couldn't get a hand on the ball that fizzed into the left side of the net on 47 minutes.

Another contentious penalty on 64 minutes - this time Hingert making the most of a challenge from Albert Riera. But Berisha couldn't make it count, Moss guessing the right way, and Roar unable to capitalise on the follow-up.

The hammer blow eventually fell for the home side on 73 minutes. Franjic skipping past Manny Muscat whipped in a shot that curled past the outstretched hand of Moss and into the top far corner.

The result sees Brisbane open up an eight-point lead over Western Sydney Wanderers who are still to play while Phoenix stay rooted to the bottom with Melbourne Heart who have their chance to move off the bottom of the table with a result against Sydney FC on Sunday.

More to follow...

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