UPDATE: BRISBANE Roar took a significant step on the road to A-League redemption on Saturday night, clinching the Premier’s Plate with a last-gasp 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium.
But in the eyes of hero Luke Brattan, who won the game with a thunderbolt deep in stoppage time, the job won’t be completed until the Roar win the grand final and seal their second premiership-championship double.
“It was a good feeling to get it in, and a bit of relief, but we’re going to concentrate on the finals now and building momentum for that,” Brattan said.
However, regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, there’s no doubting Brisbane are again the best team in the competition after losing that tag last season when they failed in their bid for a hat-trick of championships.
Under coach Mike Mulvey, who last night won his first piece of silverware with the club, the Roar have regained the hunger, desire and class that made them standouts under the man who started the revolution, former Brisbane boss and current national coach Ange Postecoglou.
“It’s a remarkable achievement,” Mulvey said.
“You don’t judge different seasons and you don’t judge us against the team that won it a few years ago at Brisbane Roar.
“Champions need to be not compared. They need to be recognised.
“It’s an absolutely brilliant achievement to win the league with three games to go.”
Just when it seemed the Roar were going to have to put premiership celebrations on hold, Brattan delivered a mighty strike that was too good for Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, who had been superb for 90 minutes.
With three rounds remaining after this weekend, the win moved Brisbane 12 points clear of the second-placed Victory.
It’s the Roar’s first Premier’s Plate since 2011 and is the club’s fourth piece of silverware, with Brisbane also having won two championships.
Delighted Roar skipper Matt Smith received the Premier’s Plate from Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop.
Winning the Plate has also ensured the Roar qualification for next year’s AFC Champions League.
“It’s one of the things that we set our stall out for at the beginning of the season. One was to finish top, qualify for Asia and the other is the grand final, so now we’ve got that in our sights,” Mulvey said.
If not for some desperate Victory defending and the excellent display of goalkeeper Thomas, the Roar would have won by more last night in front of almost 18,000 supporters.
The Roar had enough chances to win three games, with the absence of suspended striker Besart Berisha telling at times.
The Roar made two forced changes to the side that started in the 1-1 away draw with Sydney FC on March 14.
Brazilian livewire Henrique replaced Berisha, while former Victory utility Diogo Ferreira came in at left back from Corey Brown, who is recovering after appendix surgery.
The Victory made four changes to the side that beat Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 last Tuesday in the AFC Champions League.
Returning to the starting team were skipper Mark Milligan, playmakers Tom Rogic and Gui Finkler, and defender Scott Galloway.
They replaced Rashid Mahazi, Dylan Murnane, Pablo Contreras and Archie Thompson, who entered proceedings in the second half.
Despite their heavy schedule, the Victory were up for the contest.
“Mixed amongst a severe disappointment, I’m thoroughly proud of the boys,” Victory coach Kevin Muscat said.
“It was a good performance tonight (and) gut-wrenching. We were 90 seconds away from taking a point.”