Brisbane cult figure Henrique has made a fairytale return from injury, sending his side back to the A-League summit with the winning goal in Sunday’s A-League clash with Perth at Suncorp Stadium.
In his first match since undergoing a knee reconstruction in March, Henrique came off the bench to break the deadlock in the 74th minute and help the Roar secure a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
The Roar’s three second-half substitutes all combined for the goal. It started with boom midfielder Devante Clut, who headed a fluffed clearance from Perth goalkeeper Ante Covic to Javier Hervas, brought on just seconds earlier for his A-League debut.
With his very first touch, Spanish import Hervas deftly flicked the ball into the path of Henrique, who held off a strong challenge from a Glory defender and poked the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Ante Covic.
Overcome with emotion, Henrique – who recently became a naturalised Australian – burst into tears during his celebration as he was mobbed by adoring teammates, sending the crowd of 11,748 into raptures.
“You can sense that from the supporters when people come up to you and ask you about your team. Ricky’s one of the first ones they ask you about,” coach John Aloisi said.
“When I was coaching against or playing against Brisbane Roar, you knew Ricky was a fan favourite.
“If anyone’s had a major injury, they know it’s hard.
“What he’s done for the club – winning championships, scoring important goals, penalties – it’s great for him and let’s hope there’s more to come, because I think he can still deliver for us and score a lot of goals.”
It was a tough break for Perth after they grafted their way back into the contest with two clever halftime tweaks from coach Kenny Lowe.
Lowe sent livewire Sidnei Sciola on after the interval and also pushed former Socceroo Michael Thwaite into the centre of midfield, and both moves seemed to work for the Glory, having been restricted to attacking on the counter in the first half.
But Lowe blasted his players for “gifting” the Roar their goal.
“You don’t mind with the quality they’ve got in their team if they work something and it’s a quality finish or great move from them,” Lowe said.
“It’s ludicrous. You can’t come to places like this and do what we did there.”
Brisbane were largely the better side, having dominated possession and created more than twice as many chances as Perth.
Dimitri Petratos was desperately unlucky not to have scored after hitting the woodwork twice – first midway through the opening stanza, then again shortly after Henrique’s goal, both times from a fair distance out.
The result continues Aloisi’s stellar start at the Roar, lifting them two points clear on top of the ladder, just ahead of Sydney FC, while the Glory remain second last.