Draw as Aloisi, Skoko say goodbye

Nick Carle spoiled the party of former Socceroos stars John Aloisi and Josip Skoko with his late goal earning Sydney FC a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.

Nick Carle showed football can be cruel game at times with his late goal spoiling the John Aloisi and Josip Skoko’s swansong at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Carle played party-popper with his 88th minute goal earning Sydney FC a 2-2 draw against Melbourne Heart just as it appeared the former Socceroos stars were going to finish their careers on the perfect note.

Especially when Aloisi appeared to have end his career in storybook fashion by putting 10-man Heart 2-1 up on 62 minutes after first half goals from Carle to put the visitors 1-0 up before Rutger Worm levelled for Heart in the 41st minute.

Aloisi and Skoko received standing ovations from the 6019 crowed that came to farewell two fine servants of Australian football, with Skoko coming off in the 70th minute and Aloisi given an early mark on 82 minutes.

Quizzed after the match on whether the draw tempered the occasion, Aloisi and Skoko provided contrasting answers, much like the personalities that have seen them enjoy successful and long careers in Europe and with the Socceroos.

“We blame the coach for taking us off,” Aloisi joked.

“Of course it takes it away, we would have liked to go out on a good note,” Skoko said.

“But it doesn’t always have to end perfect – it ends how it ends.”

The pair witnessed Carle’s second goal of the game from the bench, with Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka paying tribute to the Sky Blues marquee man.

“He’s a very valuable player for us – Nick is a good quality player, there’s no doubt about this and showed that tonight,” Lavicka said.

The sense of occasion was tempered by the controversial send-off of Gerald Sibon, whose final game in Heart colours was brought to a premature end by referee Ben Williams.

Having been earlier booked for dissent, Sibon was marched after he mistakenly took a free-kick awarded to Sydney for a foul by Heart captain Simon Colosimo on the Sky Blues’ Finnish striker Juho Makela.

Back to Aloisi and the final goal of his career which sparked a similar celebration to the one he performed after slotting home that penalty in Sydney which sent Australia to the 2006 World Cup.

Aloisi ripped his shirt off and went straight to the Heart faithful, earning a yellow card from Williams, but as the well-travelled striker said after the match it was one he had been happy to cop.

“It was the moment – I thought that might have been the goal to win the game,” Aloisi said.

“I was excited … the last game and I didn’t care that I was going to get a yellow card.”

The goal was Aloisi’s 117th at club level, joining the 27 in 55 appearances he tallied as an important part of the Socceroos from 1997 to 2008, while Skoko brought down the curtain on a storied career which saw him play in Belgium, Croatia, Turkey and England, and represent Australia with distinction on 51 occasions.