Gielnik hat-trick inspires rampant Roar to big win over Reds
A hat-trick to Westfield Matildas star Emily Gielnik helped Brisbane Roar stop Adelaide United's momentum with a 4-2 win at Lions FC Stadium on Friday night.
Adelaide secured two wins on the bounce heading into their clash with Jake Goodship's side, but after tasting defeat for the first time in Round 11 Brisbane answered back with a vital win over the third-place Reds, thanks in large to three second-half goals netted by Gielnik - who raced three goals clear at the top of the Golden Boot standings.
Mariel Hecher got proceedings underway in the first half, putting Brisbane one goal ahead before Chelsie Dawber let her class shine through with a clinical finish before the break to restore parity between the two top-four rivals.
Both teams enjoyed encouraging moments early in the second 45 before Gielnik showed her ruthlessness with three goals scored within 18 minutes to put Brisbane 4-1 up.
Dawber struck her second late in the show to give Adelaide a glimmer of hope, but that's how the score stayed to the final whistle as Brisbane moved to within two points of the table-topping Sydney FC. Adelaide, meanwhile, remain on 19 points as Canberra United and Melbourne Victory prepare to launch an assault on the Reds' place in the top four.
Brisbane began the contest on the front foot which provided Hecher the chance to put her side into the lead on 19 minutes, but the Brazilian was unable to convert after a magnificent solo run into the box.
Charlotte Grant misread the flight of an Olivia Chance ball sent from within Brisbane's defensive half into Hecher's path on the right flank. Hecher dribbled into the box and cut past Gant to dispatch a left-footed attempt on goal, only just missing the target with Tameka Yallop stood all on her own at the back post.
But the near-miss only inspired Hecher to do better with her next chance. Yallop sparked a foray into the box, hitting the deck under a heavy challenge on the right wing which allowed Hecher to dart in and collect the loose ball.
Hecher cut the ball back to Gielnik on the tip of the box who shot at Sian Fryer-McLaren but the Adelaide goalkeeper couldn't wrap up the long-range hit, spilling it to Hecher to sweep home with ease.
Successive wins to Adelaide in the lead-up to Round 12 gave the Reds confidence in their ability to turn the tide of momentum, and that's exactly what happened when the visitors struck back in the 34th minute.
Dawber put the ball in the back of the net, but it was Isabel Hodgson who created the chance with a run between a sea of Brisbane bodies through midfield and an incisive pass into the box.
The resulting strike from Dawber matched the quality of the assist, finding the bottom left corner to draw the Reds level.
With scores locked at 1-1 at half time, the two sides emerged from the sheds to mount respective attacking assaults which made for an open second 45 speckled with chances down either end.
Gielnik proceeded to come to the fore, scoring her 10th goal of the campaign to put Brisbane 2-1 up just after the hour mark.
The Westfield Matildas forward benefited from Adelaide's inability to clear from a corner fizzed into the box by Jamilla Rankin. The ball spilled off the goal line back toward the centre of the box where Gielnik was lurking, ready to rattle the ball into the back of the net with ease.
10 minutes later Gielnik was at it again, putting Brisbane 3-1 ahead off the back of some insistent wing play from Isobel Dalton down the right flank.
Chance slid Dalton down toward the byline and the full-back attempted to pick out Gielnik inside the box with a low cross.
The initial delivery was blocked but Dalton was quick to react, gathering the rebound to successfully find Gielnik to shoot past Fryer-McLaren who was beaten at her near post.
Gielnik already had two second-half goals to her name, but the Australian international was motivated to turn her side's commanding lead into an unassailable one whilst simultaneously consolidating her lead in the race for the 2020/21 Golden Boot.
With ten minutes to play Gielnik managed to score her third of the half to seal her hat-trick and make it 4-1 on the night to the Roar. Found by a magnificent through ball from Leticia McKenna, Gielnik gathered on the left flank and drove toward the box, cutting onto her right foot before firing past Fryer-McLaren.
A 4-1 deficit did not pay Adelaide enough credit for the trouble they caused the second-placed Roar throughout the evening. Georgina Worth was at her best to keep a pair of Reds chances out in the second half but there was nothing the Roar stopper could do to keep Dawber off the scoresheet for a second time late in the game.
The visitors scored in the 87th minute after Fiona Worts found Dawber running in on goal with an invading curling through ball. Dawber fired past Worth into the bottom corner in clinical fashion to keep the door slightly ajar for the Reds, but Brisbane slammed it shut in the following minutes to ensure their 4-2 lead remained to the final whistle.