Heart squander two goal lead but still should make the finals

Melbourne Heart 2 Sydney FC 2

Roy Hay

(Click and double click on photos below to enlarge them)

In a classic game of two halves, Melbourne Heart scored two cracking goals against Sydney FC, but then conceded two to finish all square in its penultimate home and away game in the 2011-12 season.

That might just be enough to secure a finals spot for Heart for it would take a massive defeat in Adelaide next week to allow Sydney and the Newcastle Jets to get past it.

Heart made only one change to the squad for the critical match with Sydney FC. Jason Hoffman replaced Craig Goodwin on the bench.

Necevski saves and prepares to counter-attack

The opening was very cagey as both sides tried to settle and Heart did so first.

Aziz Behich led the way with some incisive work down the left, which left Socceroo Brett Emerton having to rugby tackle the wing back to keep him in check.

For Sydney Joel Chianese tested Clint Bolton in breakaway attack.

Heart however got the breakthrough just after the half-hour.

Michael Marrone laid the ball off to Fred and the skipper put Mate Dugandzic one-on-one with Ivan Necevski. Cutting in from the left the winger nutmegged the keeper in the 31st minute.

Fred and Dugandzic combined again five minutes later and when the latter struck a good cross if deflected off Scott Jamieson and Eli Babalj headed home from just outside the goal area—a long distance goal for him recently.

Terry Antonis had a shot which just skimmed wide of Clint Bolton’s left hand post as Strebre Delovski brought the half to a close.

fred and Wayne Shroj close down Nicky Carle

The second half began as Sydney brought on Shannon Cole to replace Rhyan Grant.

Sydney began to press higher up the pitch and put the Heart defence under heavy pressure.

Clint Bolton was caught by a short backpass and struck it against Chianese and Bruno Cazarine blasted the rebound over the bar.

The Nick Carle hit the cross bar with a fierce shot and Cazarine’s effort from this rebound was heading for the net when Bolton threw himself at it to save.

Heart was the side using breakaways now, but should have converted several of them.

Behich crossed and Matt Thompson headed over Necevski and on to the top of the net.

Sydney’s pressure told in 66 minutes, when a repeated series of attacks was capped off by Brett Emerton.

His cross was not cleared by the Heart defence and the ball broke to Shannon Cole who fired it past Bolton.

Heart should have restored its margin when Dugandzic broke clear but his shot was saved.

Then Babalj set up Fred in front of goal, who tried to lift the ball over Necevski, but the big keeper got enough on the ball to keep it out.

Sydney went straight up the other end and won a free kick out on the right.

Cole got on the end of it to equalise for Sydney.

Again Heart could have restored its lead, but substitute Alex Terra’s shot was blocked on the goal-line.

Mark Bridge came on for Cazarine and had a chance to put Sydney ahead for the first time, but when that was prevented the match finished all square.

Vitzslav Lavicka was happy with the second half performance by Sydney and with the overall position in that his club has its future in its own hands.

A win in front of the Cove next week and it is in the finals, which is a good result given the inconsistent season the glamour club has had.

John van’t Schip was equally balances about Heart’s performance, blaming lack of aggression, dropping too deep and allowing Sydney to play between the lines for the second half fade-out. We did not mark well and I am not happy that we threw the game away, he indicated.

Copperoos and Socceroos who played the curtain raiser.

Match details

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Melbourne Heart 2 (Mate Dugandzic 31’, Eli Babalj 36’) Sydney FC 2 (Shannon Cole 66’, 77’)

Venue: AAMI Park

Local kick-off: 7:45pm

Referee: Strebre Delovski

Assistant referees: Ashley Beecham & Hakan Anaz

Fourth official: Lucian Lavendure

Attendance: 7,498

Melbourne Heart squad:

1. Clint Bolton, 2.Michael Marrone, 4.Simon Colosimo, 5.Fred, 6.Matt Thompson, 10.Wayne Srhoj, 13.Jonatan Germano (17.Jason Hoffman 69’), 16.Aziz Behich, 18.Curtis Good, 19.Eli Babalj, 23.Mate Dugandzic (11.Alex Terra 75’)

Unused substitutes: 3.Brendan Hamill, 30.Sebastian Mattei

Yellow cards: Wayne Shroj 71’

Red cards: Nil

Sydney FC squad:

20. Ivan Necevski, 4. Pascal Bosschaart (2 Sebastian Ryall 61’), 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Brett Emerton, 9. Bruno Cazarine (19. Mark Bridge 81’), 10. Nick Carle, 15. Terry McFlynn, 16. Joel Chianese, 17. Terry Antonis, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Rhyan Grant (12. Shannon Cole 46’)

Unused substitutes: 1. Liam Reddy,

Yellow cards: Nil

Red cards: Nil

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