BRISBANE Roar moved into its second consecutive home A-League grand final, but didn't have it all its own way in a 3-2 second-leg success at Bluetongue Stadium over the Central Coast Mariners yesterday.
German star Thomas Broich got the ball rolling in the second minute and it seemed as if the tie was all over bar the shouting.
And when Mitch Nichols slotted the second from close range on 26 minutes, after a superb pass from Henrique, the Roar fans were already celebrating a place in a second consecutive home grand final.
But six minutes later it was the home fans doing all the singing after two goals from the Mariners.
First Patrick Zwaanswijk rifled in a low drive from just outside the box.
Then, after some sloppy defending by the Roar, Adam Kwasnik curled in the equaliser and the Mariners were dreaming of a dramatic
comeback. There was not so much goalmouth action in the second half as the heavens opened and conditions worsened.
But Henrique, who had been a thorn in the Mariners' side all game, settled any Roar nerves with a third goal.
The Mariners will now face Perth Glory in the preliminary final next week in Gosford and coach Ian Ferguson has praised his team's doggedness after it came from behind to beat Wellington on Saturday night.
Phoenix had looked likely to end Glory's A-League grand final bid when it led 2-1 with only 18 minutes left, but a Billy Mehmet equaliser and an extra-time winner from substitute Todd Howarth extended the Glory's best A-League season. While Perth is now just one win away from a grand final spot for the first time since its 2004 National Soccer League title, Ferguson concentrated on Saturday.
"I thought the character was tremendous," he said.
"We go one up and then we get in at half-time but then for 10 minutes in the second half we didn't turn up and Wellington got two goals.
"That's where the character comes in. It was like a roller-coaster, but when we got that equaliser it was euphoria and then brilliant when we got the winner."
ROAR 3 - Broich 2, Nichols 26, Henrique 76
MARINERS 2 - Zwaanswijk, Kwasnik
At Bluetongue Stadium