The Roar came out at full speed for the first 20 minutes and could have had 3 or 4 goals early. As we know, the Roar are at their best this way. Very entertaining for the crowd of 14,000. (Photos are 'the game stops for Thomas Oar' and 'Charlie Miller about to surprise and delight').
The first half was a showcase for new strikers Sergio van Dijk (very strong in the air and with the ball to his feet - put a left footed swivel turn just over the bar from outside the box) and Tim Smits (good in the air, scored a looping header and looked fast enough to cause an A-League defence havoc - but slowed into the 2nd half) and full back Luke DeVere (great in the air but with clearly a lot to learn about controlling strikers and their runs).
Late in the second we had our first look at Thomas Oar (some great running with the ball, but not quite there for strength yet).
But the game was stolen by the 35 minute cameo of Charlie Miller. Something was happening every time he got the ball, plus he executed the most powerful pile drive I have seen - outside the box and hit the cross bar and bounced straight up 30 or 40 metres. He regularly weaved through defenders that eventually took to kicking his heels. On the downside, he scored one of only 2 yellow cards for a tackle from behind (Kruse the other after a pushing match with a Brazilian) and he set up Murdocca's injury time volleyed goal by juggling the ball through two defenders before laying off for Massimo.
The Miller equation is not straight forward and questions remain before he is selected. While he gave a 100% and was the best on the pitch by miles, he isn't trim and as he strode out with his shirt out looked a lot like Newcastle's Super Mario disaster. But on the pitch he is all class. Will he, like Tiatto and Moore, be able to curb his British tackling style? Will he meet the challenges of training and playing in 30 degrees and 70-80% humidity? Should the Roar risk him?
Yes. They must. They need to. As Moore has said he could be the difference for a title this year.
Overall, Danny Tiatto was man-of-the-match (officially it was McKay) - regularly switching positions - full back, mid-field, striker - and regularly out Brazilian-ing the Brazilians with tricks (look this way - pass that way) and nutmegs. Tiatto was the playmaker, looking for and creating the openings. And as he said to SBS, a changed man - fouled rather than fouling.
The Roar's quasi total football system - two wide running wingers and players inter-changing positions had a clear edge over Palmeira's 3 up front and through the middle approach. So Four Four Two - Dutch football isn't dead - in Brisbane at least.
The Roar still need to work on their defence as Palmeiras' goal - a slow bouncing ball past some statutes - showed.
Goals: Roar: Smits 35’, McKay 43’, Murdocca 90+2’ Palmeiras: Portela 57’