Victory get Heart-breaking revenge

Melbourne Victory have reclaimed cross-town bragging rights and re-ignited their season with an emphatic 3-1 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory have reclaimed cross-town bragging rights and re-ignited their season with an emphatic 3-1 win over Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.

Robbie Kruse scored a first-half double either side of a brilliant Gerald Sibon free kick to give the Victory a 2-1 half-time lead and then Adrian Leijer knocked in his first goal since last year’s Grand final nine minutes into the second half to secure Victory’s first win in six games.

While the scoreline itself would have been pleasing for coach Ernie Merrick, as well as the fact his team were able to turn around the result from the inaugural Melbourne derby in October, the manner in which the win was achieved was the highlight.

After his second double is as many matches, Kruse now has ten goals in 13 starts this season and while Archie Thompson didn-t get on the scoresheet, he laid on two of the goals and starting to look back to his best after five weeks back from knee surgery.

The result pushes them up into fifth on the table and unbeaten in four after a run of three consecutive draws prior to this match. Those above them on the table will be eying their progress nervously over the next month despite the fact it is just their fifth win of the season.

Sibon’s magnificent free kick may have broken the Heart’s scoring drought, which had stretched to 546 minutes, but the fact remains they have picked up just one point from their past seven matches.

They slump to eighth on the table despite having played more games than any other team in the competition. They play Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium next Friday, looking to break the Reds’ seven-match home winning streak.

After a fairly cautious first ten minutes from both sides, the game burst into life when Surat Sukha stripped the ball from Rutger Worm and delivering it to Carlos Hernandez, who set Archie Thompson free down right hand side.

He crossed the ball for Kruse who dived in and diverted it around an advancing Clint Bolton and into the net.

Heart responded five minutes later after Kevin Muscat upended Adrian Zahra just outside the box. Sibon stepped up and curled the ball brilliantly around the wall and into the bottom corner of the net with Michael Petkovic left motionless.

Victory looked to hit back and a minute later Archie Thompson forced a desperate save from Bolton. Michael Marrone returned fire with a long effort which Petkovic initially fumbled.

Then Matt Thompson made a crucial error on 28 minutes, giving up the ball to Kruse, who charged clear into the box and finished beautifully on his left to beat Bolton again and notch his tenth of the season.

Pumped up by his two-goal haul, Kruse tried his luck on a couple of other occasions but went over, while Bolton was called on again on 34 minutes to tip a Hernandez rocket over the bar.
Heart, who brought Kristian Sarkies on for an injured Gerald Sibon at the half, looked to get themselves back on terms early in the second 45 and Wayne Srhoj and Nick Kalmar both fired just wide.

The result was secured on 54 minutes when Archie Thompson broke down the left and delivered a flat cross which Leijer steered in despite being put under pressure by Srhoj.

Victory then sat back to absorb the pressure and press forward on the counter attack. It almost worked a treat as Tom Pondeljak, who replaced Billy Celeski at half time, had two chances well dealt with by Bolton.

Heart controlled much of the possession for the rest of the game and twice hit the woodwork, once through Kalmar and Sarkies, but their run of outs roll on.

Melbourne Heart 1 (Sibon 18)
Melbourne Victory 3 (Kruse 12, 28, Leijer 54)
Crowd: 23,059 at AAMI Park