A late strike in the 89th minute from super sub Golgol Mebrahtu gave Melbourne Heart FC a dramatic 1-0 victory over visitors Perth Glory.
Match-winner Golgol Mebrathu is mobbed by Melbourne Heart teammates after his late winner.
A late strike in the 89th minute from super sub Golgol Mebrahtu handed Melbourne Heart FC a dramatic 1-0 victory over visitors Perth Glory at AAMI Park this evening.
Mebrathu was handed his debut off the substitute-s bench in the 78th minute and made the ultimate impact after just 11 minutes on the pitch, finishing a superb through-ball from Josip Tadic.
The goal proved the difference in a tight arm wrestle that looked destined for a 0-0 draw, handing John Aloisi’s side its third victory of the season and boosting the Club up the table into sixth position.
Heart has now gone three games unbeaten, picking up five points in the process.
With Michael Marrone, Richard Garcia and Aziz Behich absent on international duty for the second week running, Sam Mitchinson and Jeremy Walker were handed consecutive starts, while Nick Kalmar came in for the injured Benjamin Garuccio.
In a first half which produced a number clear-cut chances, both teams fought tooth and nail to take the ascendancy, but neither side could find the decisive blow to set the match alight.
The earliest came in the third minute as Kalmar, handed his third start of the season after Garuccio was ruled out for a month, slipped the in-form Tadic in on goal.
The Croatian, who has three goals to his name already this season and has proved a revelation for the Heart, raced onto the ball in Perth-s penalty area, but could only strike the side netting.
Shane Smeltz always looked a danger with his darting runs, and it was fitting that Glory-s target man produced the first scare for the home team, sending a diving header just wide of the target in the initial exchanges.
Kalmar looked lively and in the 23rd minute tested Glory keeper Danny Vukovic with a swinging drive from 20 metres.
Cutting inside onto his right foot from Mitchinson-s pass on the left wing, Kalmar unleashed a powerful shot which swung in the air and Vukovic palmed it away awkwardly for a corner.
Glory continued to threaten when going forward and Travis Dodd’s stinging shot was deflected clear of danger from Simon Colosimo, just in the nick of time.
Both teams continued to exchange blows, as David Williams showed his pace down the left flank and served a tantalising ball to Fred in the 39th minute, but Heart-s captain could only place his low left-footed drive straight at Vukovic.
It was then Glory’s turn as Smeltz stole in for another glimpse at goal two minutes from the break, heading Dodd-s cross wide of the mark.
While the blistering heat had subsided, there was plenty of passion displayed by both teams at the break as they exchanged heated words in the tunnel.
But it was Heart that emerged from the break more energised and Williams conjured three quick-fire chances in the first four minutes of the second period.
Vukovic was forced to save the first, before Williams drove into the side netting and then struck wide after a good lay-off from Kalmar.
The turning point came just after the hour mark as Perth nearly pinched the lead, as Clint Bolton was called into action to superbly deny Dodd-s right-footed with an excellent reflex stop.
After that shock, Heart burst back into life as Williams sped down the left flank and crossed to Fred, only for the Brazilian to drag his half-volley agonisingly wide of the target.
Perth weren-t done yet as Steven McGarry curled a great free-kick onto the outside of the upright in a cagey final 20 minutes.
Sensing the need for impetus in the closing stages, Aloisi introduced Mebrahtu for his debut in the 78th minute.
And it wasn-t long until the former Gold Coast United striker repaid his coach-s faith in full.
Breaking away on a late counter attack, the effective Tadic beat two defenders before sliding a defence-splitting ball to the on-running Mebrahtu.
Mebrahtu lived up to his name and made no mistake, slipping the ball under Vukovic to send Yarraside into raptures.
Melbourne Heart 1 (Mebrahtu 89′)
Perth Glory 0
Crowd: TBC at AAMI Park
Melbourne Heart squad: 1. Clint Bolton (GK), 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Fred (14. Golgol Mebrahtu 78-), 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8. Matthew Thompson, 10. Josip Tadic (9. Dylan Macallister 90+2-),, 15. David Williams, 17. Jason Hoffman), 22. Nick Kalmar (18. David Vrankovic 90+1-), 24. Sam Mitchinson, 25. Jeremy Walker
Substitutes not used: 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Perth Glory Squad: 1. Danny Vukovic, 3. Seb Van Den Brink, 4. Billy Mehmet (6. Nick Ward), 5. Steve Pantelidis, 7. Jacob Burns (c), 8. Dean Hefferan, 9. Shane Smeltz, 13. Travis Dodd (18. Jesse Makarounas 85-), 14. Steven McGarry, 17. Chris Harold, 19. Josh Risdon.
Substitutes not used: 6. Nick Ward, 15. Brandon O-Neill
Yellow Cards: Burns 55-, Danny Vukovic 81.
Red Cards: Nil