Heart shoot to second


Melbourne Heart have vaulted up to second on the Hyundai A-League table with an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory in a pulsating derby at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Melbourne Heart have vaulted up to second on the Hyundai A-League table with an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory in a pulsating derby at AAMI Park on Friday night.

After falling behind to an Archie Thompson goal on 21 minutes, Heart turned the game around thanks to a sublime five-minute spell from Matt Thompson, who scored goals in the 37th and 39th minutes.

A memorable result for the home side was sealed just after the hour when substitute Alex Terra manufactured a spectacular goal inside the box.

Carlos Hernandez slotted a typically brilliant free kick in injury time, but it proved little more than academic.

While the win gives Heart significant cross-town bragging rights and puts them six points clear of Victory near the halfway point of the season, more importantly it sees them move above Brisbane Roar into second having played the same amount of games as the defending champions.

With six wins in their past seven matches they find themselves in the highest table position in their short history and with genuine claims of being championship challengers.

Victory will regret having not put the match to bed early on, with Hernandez missing a penalty. They remain in sixth place, but continue to fail to live up to pre-season expectations with just three wins from 12 games.

Confronting a 3-4-3 formation at the start of the game, Victory relished the extra space up forward and in just the fifth minute a quick through-ball from Hernandez caught the Heart defence on the hop.

Archie Thompson strolled through and while his attempt to get the ball around Clint Bolton was a clumsy one, the effort of Heart’s keeper was even worse as he brought down the striker and conceded the penalty. But Bolton atoned for his actions when he held on to a stuttering spot kick from Hernandez.

Two minutes later, Bolton was on hand again to snuff out an Archie Thompson chance this time, legally, while Heart’s best early chance fell to Eli Babalj, who side footed a shot at Ante Covic.

Covic would be a surprise provider of the Victory’s first goal on 21 minutes, with a long goal kick catching out Brendan Hamill and Adrian Madaschi, and allowing Archie Thompson in to chip Bolton and open the scores.

With their tails up, and with a hold on the game, Victory pushed for a second, with Hernandez putting his shot over the top and then Kewell heading onto the bar.

A change to a flat back four helped Heart get back control of the game and after Babalj had again threatened, forcing a reaction save from Covic, Matt Thompson turned the game on its head in two minutes.

Allowed more freedom with a new formation, Matt Thompson drifted further forward. On 37 minutes, a free kick deep in defence was pushed out to Mate Dugandzic on the right and his long cross-field kick found Rutger Worm, who played in Matt Thompson.

He finished with aplomb and the game was well and truly alive.

Two minutes later, a turnover from Leigh Broxham saw Fred chip the ball cleverly over the Victory defence and Matt Thompson ran onto the ball. Covic was caught in no-man’s land, allowing the midfielder to chip him from a difficult angle.

With that, the flow of the game completely reversed and Covic was called on twice in a minute to save an ambitious volley from Fred and then defy Babalj’s flick from a corner.

After Diogo Ferreira tested Bolton and Matt Thompson took aim at a hat-trick, but went over, Isaka Cernak had a great chance to equalise, only to be denied by Bolton.

Cernak’s reward was to be substituted for Marco Rojas, but it was an attacking change from Heart which yielded the next goal as Terra came on for the impressive but underdone Babalj.

After Adrian Leijer had nearly sliced the ball into his own net, Heart took a corner, and while it was initially cleared, Matt Thompson headed it back in the box and Terra flicked it up and turned it in past Covic to make it 3-1 on 62 minutes.

Kewell’s tough night rolled on as he headed over and then shot over as he tried to lift his side back into it. But the comeback failed to eventuate.

In all truth, Heart should have won the game by a larger margin with both Terra and Jason Hoffman missing easy chances to ice the success in the final 15 minutes.

In the 92nd minute, Hernandez unleashed an impressive but ultimately pointless goal.

Melbourne Heart 3 (M Thompson 37, 39, Terra 62)
Melbourne Victory 2 (A Thompson 21, Hernandez 92)
Crowd: 26,579 at AAMI Park