Melbourne Heart FC’s finals hopes took a hit on Monday evening as the Red and White succumbed to Adelaide United 2-0 at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Heart FC-s finals hopes took a hit on Monday evening as the Red and White succumbed to Adelaide United 2-0 at AAMI Park.
The visitors struck in both halves as Dario Vidosic converted a penalty in the 40th minute, before Iain Ramsay struck the decisive blow seven minutes into the second period to secure a finals berth for Adelaide and leave Heart teetering on the edge of a top six appearance, three points adrift of Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets.
While Heart had the opportunity to leap from ninth position into fifth on goal difference on the back of five consecutive home wins, the Red and White couldn-t quite find the same rhythm it had displayed in previous matches at AAMI Park.
With Heart seeking a sixth consecutive win on home soil, Head Coach John Aloisi made a number of changes to invigorate his side after last week-s 1-0 loss against Wellington Phoenix.
Josip Tadic made a return to Heart-s starting line-up for the first time since breaking a toe in the last Melbourne derby, while Patrick Gerhardt was omitted and replaced by David Vrankovic in central defence.
Dutchman Marcel Meeuwis was preferred to Argentine Jonatan Germano in midfield alongside Matt Thompson, who made a record 200th A-League appearance, and Nick Kalmar.
Monday night football proved sweltering in sizzling Melbourne conditions, but the heat was on Heart early as Tomi Juric-s powerful strike rattled the home side-s woodwork inside the first two minutes.
Heart keeper Andrew Redmayne had deflected the effort with a finger-tip save and if it not been for his acrobatics, the Red and White could have been a goal down inside 90 seconds.
But Heart responded quickly and looked to expose Adelaide down the left flank as Jeremy Walker and Richard Garcia combined well.
Tadic, who started ahead of Eli Babalj, was handed the first chance of the match for the Red and White after industrious work from Walker, as he headed the Tasmanian-s pinpoint cross on goal, only for Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic to produce an excellent save at close range.
Kalmar looked to bury the follow-up, but blasted his effort just over the crossbar.
Heart nearly profited from a similar move minutes later as Walker crossed low from the right and Kalmar collected and drove a low shot on target, but Galekovic again pulled off another stunning save.
Kalmar then shot agonisingly wide in the 13th minute as Heart looked to put the visitors to the sword early on.
But the momentum swung in Adelaide-s favour after the first half hour and the Reds went close to pinching the lead as they struck the woodwork again – this time through Vidosic-s powerful strike from distance in the 32nd minute.
Seven minutes later and Heart were dealt a blow as Jeremy Walker-s high foot on Marcelo Carrusca was penalised and Adelaide were awarded a spot kick.
Vidosic stepped up to send Redmayne the wrong way and hand the South Australians a 1-0 lead at the break.
With Heart in need of three points to set its finals tilt back on track, the home side-s task was made even harder seven minutes after the restart as delicate interplay between Carussca, Cassio and Ramsay gave Adelaide a second.
After unlocking Heart-s defence down the left, Ramsay doubled his side-s advantage with a powerful strike and gave Heart a steep hill to climb.
Adelaide pressed for a third, while Heart struggled to contain its opponent, despite creating a number of half-chances including substitute Golgol Mebrahtu-s late effort which flashed past Galekovic-s post.
While the loss has dented Heart-s finals prospects, the Red and White remain just three points outside the top six ahead of this Saturday-s visit of Western Sydney Wanderers to AAMI Park.
Hyundai A-League Round 24
Melbourne Heart 0
Adelaide United FC 2 (Vidosic 41- [PEN], Ramsay 53-)
Referee: Chris Beath
Melbourne Heart FC line-up: 20.Andrew Redmayne (GK), 4.Simon Colosimo, 8.Matt Thompson (c), 10.Josip Tadic (36.Eli Babalj 57-), 11.Richard Garcia, 15.David Williams, 16.Marcel Meeuwis (5.Fred 46-), 18.David Vrankovic, 21.Jamie Coyne (14.Golgol Mebrahtu 68-), 22.Nick Kalmar, 25.Jeremy Walker
Substitutes not used: 1.Clint Bolton (GK)
Yellow Cards: Colosimo 68-, Garcia 80-
Red Cards: Nil
Adelaide United FC line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (GK) (c), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Iain Fyfe, 6.Cassio, 8.Marcelo Carrusca (22.Fabio Ferreira 82-), 10.Dario Vidosic, 14.Cameron Watson, 17.Iain Ramsay (18.Fabian Barbiero 88-), 19.Jake Barker-Daish, 25.Tomi Juric (21.Jeronimo Neumann 74-)
Substitutes not used: 20.Paul Izzo (GK)
Yellow Cards: Ramsay 33-, McKain 41-, Juric 64-, Galekovic 77-, Boogaard 81-
Red Cards: Nil