A lethargic Brisbane Roar kept their A-League finals charge alive with an uninspiring 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners.
Henrique's first goal for the Roar in nearly two years on Saturday was enough to see them leapfrog Western Sydney into the top six -- at least temporarily. It was their sixth win in their last nine A-League outings, continuing a strong run of late-season results for John Aloisi's side.
Next weekend's away clash with the Wanderers now looms as a winner-takes-all battle for the one finals berth still up for grabs. But Brisbane's flat performance at Suncorp Stadium won't exactly strike fear into the hearts of their rivals.
Even without star playmaker Daniel de Silva (hamstring), the plucky Mariners refused to lie down despite having their hopes of silverware extinguished long ago.
The Roar went ahead in the 13th minute through a swift counterattack, which led to Jack Hingert feeding Eric Bautheac, who cut back to an unmarked Henrique at the top of the penalty area.
The "Slippery Fish" made no mistake with the left-footed finish, delighting the crowd of 12,019 -- a season high for the Roar. But it was the only time they could breach Central Coast's sturdy five-man defence.
Aloisi was left fuming when Brisbane, who were without their own attacking maestro Brett Holman (groin), had a legitimate penalty shout for handball waved away by referee Jonathan Barreiro towards the end of the first half.
Kye Rowles had both hands behind his back as Henrique shaped to cross in from the flank but appeared to stick his right hand out as the pass was made. The ball then clattered straight into it but neither Barreiro nor the VAR saw fit to award a spot kick, prompting an angry Aloisi to remonstrate with officials at half-time.
"In my opinion, and probably 12,000 people's opinion, if the hand moves towards the ball... it's a clear penalty," Aloisi said. "I don't understand how the assistant referee, the referee and then the VAR missed it. "I don't get it, I really don't. Too many times it's happened."
Moments earlier, Jamie Young kept out the Mariners' best chance of the match with a point-blank save on Connor Pain.
They also came within millimetres of finding an equaliser in the 27th minute. Andrew Hoole's free kick attempt from just outside the box had Jamie Young well beaten but his curling shot hit the crossbar and bounced straight down on the line without crossing it.
Central Coast's caretaker coach Wayne O'Sullivan said he was proud of their performance. "We came with a plan and we executed that plan pretty well. The one time we didn't, they hurt us," he said.