Brisbane Roar strengthened their chances of hosting Australia's A-League grand final after a 2-0 away win over Central Coast Mariners in the semi-final first leg in Gosford today.
Second half goals by Kosta Barbarouses and Matt McKay extended Brisbane's unbeaten run to 26 matches and put them in the boxseat to convert their domination of the season into a championship.
The Mariners now head into next Saturday's second leg in Brisbane facing an uphill task, having to beat the Roar by more than two goals at Brisbane's home ground, where the Roar have not lost a match since January 2010.
The aggregate winner of next weekend's tie will host the grand final on 12 March while the loser will face off against either Adelaide United, Gold Coast United or Melbourne Victory in the preliminary final a week earlier.
Saturday's contest had been even before the Mariners gave away possession in the 52nd minute, allowing McKay to find Barbarouses.
The New Zealand striker shrugged off challenges from Alex Wilkinson and Patrick Zwaanswijk before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Mathew Ryan for his 12th goal of the season.
The Roar added a valuable second away goal in the 73rd minute through Socceroos star McKay. The midfielder played a neat one-two with Barbarouses and was left unmarked to flick a near-post header over Ryan's head into the net.