Victory share derby spoils

Melbourne Victory have weathered a determined comeback from cross-town rivals Melbourne Heart to earn a 2-2 draw in an entertaining derby at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory have weathered a determined comeback from cross-town rivals Melbourne Heart to earn a 2-2 draw in an entertaining derby at Etihad Stadium.

In front of a season record crowd of 32,231 fans, Victory looked well in control after two goals in the first 31 minutes from Danny Allsopp and Carlos Hernandez. Allsopp headed home on 11 minutes for his second goal in as many games before Hernandez produced yet another perfect free kick to make it 2-0.

But the visitors would not be denied and managed to square the game up with a pair of close-range goals from John Aloisi either side of half time.

In a tense second half befitting the nature of a derby, both sides went close to claiming the win, while Melbourne captain Kevin Muscat was shown a red card with 12 minutes remaining.

The result means Victory remain in fifth spot having failed to further open up the one-point gap between the two Melbourne teams.

After a guarded opening ten minutes, Victory burst into life with some great interplay between Matthew Kemp and Hernandez, which allowed Kemp to break into the box. His cross was flat and perfect for a diving Allsopp, who had broken Michael Beauchamp’s marking to head home past Clint Bolton.

Victory’s lead had come from the first real chance of the match and the Heart were a little stunned. They responded with a dangerous Josip Skoko free kick which Rody Vargas headed just inches wide of his own goal.

On 20 minutes, Heart had another chance to equalise with Aloisi nodding wide, while seven minutes later Gerald Sibon saw his effort tipped over.

But just as it seemed the visitors were getting a foothold on the game, Hernandez put Victory two-up with a sublime free kick on 31 minutes. The Costa Rican smashed the ball around the wall, which had buckled thanks to Muscat’s intervention and the score was 2-0.

Sibon tried to match Hernandez’s efforts with a free kick from similar range soon after, but his shot only ruffled the top netting,

However, in the final minute of added time for the half, the Dutchman flicked a long ball onto Aloisi, who set Terra free. The Brazilian hit an audacious overhead volley cross which Aloisi rose to nod home to make it 2-1 at the break.

Heart continued to do much of the attacking early in the second half and on 51 minutes drew level. Simon Colosimo hit the bar, and the ball eventually found its way to Beauchamp, who lobbed a cross over his head and Aloisi was again the man on the spot.

Victory’s defence remained under pressure for much of the next 20 minutes, but held firm. In a bid to change the game around, Ernie Merrick sent for Ricardinho in place of Marvin Angulo and Tom Pondeljak to replace Mate Dugandzic.

But Heart kept on pushing forward and on 79 minutes, Muscat brought down Adrian Zahra and referee Chris Beath sent the skipper to the stands.

From that point it became a rescue mission for the home side, and they barely survived as Terra and Sibon both missed shots they should have scored from.

For the first time in three encounters, the teams shared the points, a result which helps strengthen both teams’ finals hopes.

Victory now travel to North Queensland on Wednesday to take on the Fury, before hosting Gold Coast United in another vital match next Sunday at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Allsopp 11, Hernandez 31)
Melbourne Heart 2 (Aloisi 45, 51)
Crowd: 32,231 at Etihad Stadium