Once again extrovert striker Besart Berisha saw red, but a 10-man Brisbane Roar were jubilant after digging deep to seal a remarkable 2-1 A-League win over Melbourne Heart on Friday night.
Minor premiers the Roar looked down and out at Suncorp Stadium when a distraught Berisha received a record – and contentious – third red card for the season in the 49th minute with the scores locked at 1-1.
However, Brisbane’s shortest player – Brazilian Henrique – stood tall to knock in a Matt McKay cross in the 73rd minute and bring the 10,101-strong crowd to their feet.
The gutsy win ended Heart’s mathematical chance of making the A-League finals.
Berisha faces another week on the sidelines after receiving a second straight red for his sliding effort that caught Heart ‘keeper Tando Velaphi in the head.
However, Berisha appeared unlucky to cop a straight red from referee Chris Beath after his foot rolled off the ball before crashing into Velaphi’s face as both slid into the contest.
The Albanian striker was inconsolable after Beath’s verdict, slumping to the ground for minutes before leaving the field in tears.
He had only just returned from his one-match ban for his send-off in Brisbane’s 1-1 draw with Sydney FC on March 14.
Roar coach Mike Mulvey had not wanted to rest players in the lead-up to the A-League finals, despite his side clinching the minor premiership with three rounds left.
But he will have no choice after Berisha again received his marching orders.
Brisbane appeared to be behind the eight ball from the outset when Mulvey put a line through the names of man of the moment Luke Brattan (hip) and Socceroos defender Ivan Franjic (ankle).
Yet Brisbane are on a five-game unbeaten run and in ominous form as they look to add to their two championship titles.
The Heart were the dominant side early, with David Williams squandering two early chances.
But they could not be denied in the 18th minute when Aziz Behich fed off Massimo Murdocca and Mate Dugandzic to pot in the opener.
However, the Roar levelled in the 36th when Thomas Broich and Matt Smith helped set up Dimitri Petratos’ fifth goal of the season and first at his home ground.