Tenacious Heart Held At Etihad

Melbourne Heart FC’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series hopes remain alive after the Club recorded a stirring 2-2 draw against cross town rival Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Heart FC-s Hyundai A-League Finals Series hopes remain alive after the Club recorded a stirring 2-2 draw against cross town rival Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.

After falling behind to early strikes from Victory-s Danny Allsopp and Carlos Hernandez, Heart struck back on the stroke of half time through John Aloisi before the Socceroo legend repeated the dose in near identical circumstances after the break to complete the side-s comeback.

But despite the stunning turnaround, the result was dampened by a serious injury to Adrian Zahra, who was forced off after he was felled by red card challenge from Victory-s Kevin Muscat in the final 10 minutes of the match.

Head Coach John van ‘t Schip said his side showed amazing resilience and determination in bouncing back from its first half set back to claim a point.

“We played well, came back from 2-0 down and showed great character, all the boys did well,” he said.

“Then something like (Zahra-s injury) happens and you see a boy in the dressing room after the game, it’s really heartbreaking to see a young player having tears and a lot of pain.”

“You forget very fast about the game and the things we achieved this evening. It shouldn-t be like that, we should be talking about a great game and, sure we’re doing that, but the main thing in my head at least is feeling very sorry for Adrian Zahra.”

With over 30,000 fans packed into the Docklands venue, the explosive match-up kicked-off in rather inconspicuous fashion, with both Heart and Victory taking a cagey approach to the early stages of the match.

Heart though soon emerged as the most likely to open the scoring, asserting its authority over its Blue rivals through the Club-s trademark possession game.

But against the run of play, it was Victory that opened the scoring, as Matthew Kemp burst down the left flank before playing a low cross which was headed home by Danny Allsopp after 10 minutes.

The Red and White refused to be dismayed by the early blow and immediately sought about rectifying the situation on the scoreboard, creating a succession of chances, the best of which fell to Gerald Sibon, who was only able to fire high with the goal at his mercy.

Victory capitalised on Heart-s profligacy on 31 minutes, as Carlos Hernandez benefitted from an apparent foul in the wall to curl home his free kick from long range.

Hernandez-s goal was Victory-s final strike on target for the match, as Heart began to assert complete control of the contest, with midfield duo Josip Skoko and Wayne Srhoj dictating the tempo through their fluid passing and vision.

Sibon had a chance to open Heart-s scoring account from the dead ball, but his scintillating effort curled agonisingly high of the goal.

But Heart soon grabbed the goal it craved and so richly deserved moments before half time and it was Aloisi who added another chapter to his glorious career with the strike which reignited the contest.

Holding off the advances of the Victory defenders, Aloisi played a neat pass inside the box through to Alex Terra, who drew upon his penchant for the spectacular to flick the ball up and unleash a stunning bicycle kick cross to the Socceroo legend who did the rest, finding the back of the net from close range.

He then repeated the effort in the 51st minute, heading home an overhead cross from Michael Beauchamp in near replica fashion after Captain Simon Colosimo, who was once again at his inspirational best, clattered a header against the woodwork, causing a goal mouth scramble.

Boasting all the momentum, Heart then continued its overwhelming display, spreading the play across the park in an effort to unlock the Victory defence and claim what would certainly have been a well-earned winning goal.

And in the final 10 minutes, the side missed a flurry of chances, as Alex Terra twice spurned opportunities to ensure the points were shared.