Heart undone in pulsating Melbourne Derby

Melbourne Heart FC registered a display of spirit, character and belief, only to fall to city rival Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Etihad Stadium last night.

Melbourne Heart FC registered a display of spirit, character and belief, only to fall to city rival Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Etihad Stadium last night.

Trailing 2-0 with 34 minutes remaining, Heart conjured a reply through David Williams in the 72nd minute to reduce the deficit, which had been established by Victory-s duo of Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan either side of half time, but eventually the Red and White ran out of time and an equaliser proved illusive.

In a match where Victory keeper Nathan Coe was a standout, Heart could argue it deserved more in a valiant effort.

While Victory led at the break through Thompson-s strike in the 29th minute, it had Coe to thank after he made a number of crucial saves to deny Heart in the first period.

However, Heart was also thankful its stopper Andrew Redmayne had a stellar evening between the sticks, as he continually thwarted the attacking onslaught from Victory-s deadly partnership of Thompson and Marco Rojas.

In the end, Milligan-s penalty in the 56th minute proved the difference, as Williams- goal proved merely a consolation.

Heart was the first to ask the question of Coe in the fifth minute, when Williams cut the ball inside to Babalj who spread to Jonatan Germano, but the Argentine-s shot was straight at Coe.

Teenager Jeremy Walker then went close to the opener, and his first-ever Hyundai A-League goal, blasting at Coe from close range after an effort from Tadic.

Sam Mitchinson then illustrated that what Heart-s back line lacked in age, it made up with enthusiasm and confidence, crossing to Eli Babalj who nudged a shot inches over Coe-s bar in the 14th minute.

Heart tried to penetrate down the right flank minutes later, as Walker and Richard Garcia exchanged passes, eventually forcing Adrian Leijer into a last ditch tackle.

But Victory were quick to threaten on the break and after Marcos Flores slipped in the silky Rojas, it took a sensational save from Redmayne to deny the Victory in the 17th minute.

However, Redmayne was powerless to stop Thompson 12 minutes later, as another pinpoint pass from Flores unleashed the Victory striker.

Thompson, who hit the winner in the last encounter, proved Heart-s nemesis again, slotting past Redmayne after breaking Heart-s defensive line in the 29th minute.

Heart were hit when Tadic was removed after a suffering a foot injury, but his replacement Golgol Mebrathu sought to make an immediate impact and was energetic from the outset.

Both teams struck the woodwork with two minutes remaining in the first half, as Billy Celeski hit a clean half-volley onto the corner of the upright.

Coe then produced one of the saves of the match, tipping Mebrahtu-s superb free kick onto the crossbar with seconds left until the break.

While Heart felt unlucky to enter the break a goal down, it suffered a further blow 10 minutes into the second half as Flores went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Germano, and Victory were awarded a penalty.

Milligan sent Redmayne the wrong way and Victory held a formidable 2-0 lead. But Heart refused to give in against the odds and Williams showed intent, stinging Coe-s hands with a long-range drive in the 68th minute.

Heart-s goal came after substitute Nick Kalmar made inroads into the Victory penalty area and the ball spilled free to Williams in the 73rd minute.

Williams cut around Coe, before driving home past two flailing defenders to give Heart hope.

Two minutes later, Heart could have drawn level, as Kalmar slipped Mebrathu in on goal, only for the striker to run out of space and Coe saved at close range.

Mebrathu then headed wide, before Redmayne saved his team again when the Rojas-Thompson combination conspired to undo Heart once again.

In the end, Victory held its lead despite continued pressure from a Heart side which was desperately unlucky not to snatch a point.

Match Details Hyundai A-League Round 19 Melbourne Victory FC 2 (Archie Thompson 29-, Mark Milligan [PEN] 56-) Melbourne Heart FC 1 (David Williams 72-) Etihad Stadium Crowd: 41,203 Referee: Strebe Delovski