Roar stun Sydney as resurgence continues
BRISBANE Roar have put the rest of the A-League on notice, continuing their late-season revival with a 2-1 upset win over competition leaders Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.
After a poor start to the season, the Roar's fifth win in seven A-League matches moved them to within two points of the top six.
Goals from skipper Matt McKay and makeshift central defender Jacob Pepper proved enough for the Roar, who held on after Milos Ninkovic halved Brisbane's lead in the 59th minute.
Sydney had two late chances to earn a point. Substitute Matt Simon hit the post in the 89th minute, while Roar keeper Jamie Young made a crucial save in tipping a Brandon O'Neill free-kick over the crossbar in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
But the gutsy the Roar deserved their win, which further increased their confidence of doing some damage if they can finish in the top six.
"We believed that we can beat any side in this competition whether it's home or away," Roar coach John Aloisi told Fox Sports.
"A lot of our players … are now starting to find real form.
"I was really happy with our defensive performance. Until their goal we shut them down pretty well and they didn't really create much but they got a bit of a lift from their goal, and we held on in the end."
Sydney's loss was their first home A-League defeat since April 2016, and it continued their poor recent form, with the reigning champions having won only one of their past seven matches in all competition.
Their lead at the top of the A-League has been cut to five points following second-placed Newcastle's 1-0 away win over Wellington on Saturday.
Brisbane took control early on Saturday night, grabbing a shock ninth minute lead via midfielder McKay.
Frenchman Eric Bautheac was the provider of the chance with a corner that found an unmarked McKay, whose header snuck in at the near post past Sydney's former Brisbane goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
Another set piece, this time a Fahid Ben Khalfallah free-kick, again undid the hosts nine minutes later..
Ben Khalfallah's free-kick was met at the far post by Ivan Franjic, who headed the ball into the path of fellow defender Pepper, who scored his first A-League goal since netting a brace for Newcastle against Melbourne Victory in March 2012.
Sydney cut into Brisbane's lead 14 minutes into the second half via yet another set piece, this time a Jordy Buijs free-kick that Brisbane custodian Young failed to deal with.
Buijs's free-kick found his star teammate Ninkovic, who headed the ball home at the far post.
But Young redeemed himself injury in denying O'Neill and ensuring all three points would return to Brisbane.
BRISBANE ROAR 2 (Matt McKay 9m, Jacob Pepper 18m) SYDNEY FC 1 (Milos Ninkovic 59m) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 10,890. Referee: Kurt Ams.