John Aloisi’s reaction after the final whistle could only be described as pure joy. He had done it. The apprentice had beat the master, David had beat Goliath. Aloisi’s carefully placed defense was remarkable, resulting in a surprise Melbourne Heart 2 – 1 win over cross town rivals, Melbourne Victory in A-League season 8’s opening match.
It became quickly obvious that things had changed at the Heartland. Their chances heavily played down by many, but it proved that form can count to nothing in a Derby. Heart played high on Victory early, giving them no space to use the ball and forcing them to play most of the first 45 minutes out of their own defensive half.
Heart’s speedy movement of the ball was costly for the Victory, their younger players warming to the occasion providing many good scoring chances in front of goal.
Tension’s were high from both sides, Heart defender Patrick Gerhardt drawing a yellow card after a late tackle on Finkler in the 11th minute.
Victory’s frustration continued when David Williams put the a nicely crossed ball past keeper Lawrence Thomas giving Heart an early 1 goal buffering.
A well timed cross ball from new signing Richard Garcia to an un-marked David Williams caught Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas off his mark, leaving Williams to score the first goal of the season putting Melbourne Heart 1 – 0 up.
The pressure was being felt all around the field by Victory players, 20 year-old Victory Keeper, Thomas was clearly nervous, narrowly escaping some close interceptions when returning the ball to the field of play.
Just over 10 minutes later it was Victory’s turn to return fire at Heart. An Archie Thompson cross to a running Marco Rojas, resulted in a goal, when Rojas drilled the ball home just inches from a diving Heart Keeper, Clint Bolton.
Taking the game back to level terms, it was clear to see that momentum was now with Melbourne Victory.
Melbourne Heart continued to press onwards, Williams and Garcia both having shots to give Heart the lead again.
Victory also had a chance to take the lead into half time, new signing Marcos Flores un-lucky to hit the woodwork with a curving shot on goal.
However, Melbourne Heart were to strike again, a counter attack ignited by Heart Keeper Bolton gave Mate Dugandzic the chance for a cross to an awaiting ex-Gold Coast forward, Dylan MacAllister who slotted another goal sending Heart 2 – 1 up into the second half.
The challenge was left Victory to score two goals in the next 45 minutes and keep a vibrant Melbourne Heart at bay.
Heart opened the second half strongly, MacAllister could have sealed the game 3 – 1 after some fancy footwork left just him and the keeper, but luckily for Victory, the shot was off target.
David Williams continued to put the pressure on Victory’s defense, having another 3 scoring chances, only to be saved by Thomson.
As the clock slowly wound down, it became clear that began Victory had lifted the intensity on a tiring Melbourne Heart.
Victory fans began to get inpatient and sick of their team playing around with the ball near the 18-yard box, desperately yelling ‘Shoot’.
At 90 minutes Victory’s final chance to draw the match came through a fast cross to Archie Thompson directly in front of goal, but fortunately for the Heart, his shot was too powerful and was sent flying into a sea of disgruntled Victory fans.
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou wasn’t happy with the 2 – 1 loss, saying he was ‘disappointed’ with their performance post-match.
‘Hugely disappointing with our performance’ said Postecoglou. ‘Overall I don’t think we controlled the game at any time and didn’t impose ourselves at all on the contest.’
New Heart coach John Aloisi was more pleased with Heart’s performance and was keen to see them improve in their upcoming matches.
‘We played well and we know we can still improve a lot more, and that’s the good thing about it.’ Aloisi said. ‘The most pleasing aspect [of our performance] was that tactically the boys did everything we were training. It’s one thing working on it and another executing it during the game.’
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