BRISBANE ROAR are half way to the A-League decider after knocking off premiership winners Central Coast Mariners 2-0 in the first leg of their major semi final at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
The Roar dominated the first half, taking their lead through Henrique in the eighth minute, and with a smorgasbord of opportunities following, should have put the game beyond doubt there and then.
Erik Paartalu eventually had the result locked away in the 85th minute, driving home from the top of the area after midfield-maestro Thomas Broich went on a tantalising run, drawing a handful of defenders before laying off for the big defensive midfielder.
Central Coast had managed to reconfigure defensively at the interval, closing down the spaces and frustrating the Roar for long periods, but at no point were they able to truly break free in attack and turn the pressure back on the hosts.
Both sides have Asian Champions League matches through the week - Brisbane in Korea and Central Coast at home - before the Mariners have the chance to make up the two-goal difference when they host the return leg at Bluetongue Stadium next Sunday.
Brisbane playmaker Broich was full of clever involvement for the hosts, while young Central Coast Bernie Ibini was among the best of the visitors, carrying their attacking line almost single-handedly at times.
Henrique was the lead actor for the opening 10, earning a penalty, missing from the spot and then finally finding the net less than a minute later, tapping home the loose ball when Matt Ryan failed to control Matt Smith's header from the corner.
Mariners left back Josh Rose gave the penalty away, sliding in dangerously to bring the Brazilian down as he prepared to collect a through-ball and unleash from close range.
Hyundai A-League leading goal-scorer Besart Berisha should have doubled Brisbane's in the 12th minute, but had the ball plucked from his toes as he attempted to jink around Ryan after taking a sublime ball from Broich to go one-on-one.
The Roar continued to hold sway through the entire opening 45, but their ability to penetrate at will slackened slightly, relieving the visitors from the automatic fire of the first quarter.
Central Coast's best chance of the game fell to Tomas Rogic five minutes after the break, but his point-blank header from Pedj Bojic's cross was smothered by a diving Michael Theoklitos and cleared by Mohamed Adnan.
The Mariners had slowed Brisbane to a shuffle by midway through the first half, but their tighter structure in defense wasn't matched by a renewed desire to get forward and look for the equaliser.
Mitch Nichols should certainly have doubled the lead in the final 20 minutes but skewed his shot past the left post after being fed in unmarked space by a perfect cross from substitute attacker Nicholas Fitzgerald.
Paartalu put a dent in the cross-bar with 10 minutes remaining, driving full-throttle at a loose ball that came bobbling out of the area, in what was a prelude to his game-sealer five minutes later.
Brisbane Roar: 2 Henrique 8, Paartalu 86
Central Coast: 0