Solace can rarely be taken in defeat, but in football, matters aren’t always as cut and dry.
Solace can rarely be taken in defeat, but in football, matters aren-t always as cut and dry.
Melbourne Heart FC can walk away proud as a gallant youth side suffered a wrenching 4-3 defeat on penalties against K-League powerhouse Busan I-Park in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational at Aloha Stadium.
With the match locked at 0-0 after 90 minutes, the dreaded shootout was required to determine who would progress to the tournament final on Sunday afternoon.
The sides went effort for effort in the early stages of the shootout before a spot kick which thundered against the post provided Brodie Paterson with a chance to hand Heart a near unassailable 4-2 lead.
Busan-s stopper Jeon Sang-wook however was equal to the challenge, making the first in a string of saves to deny Jason Trifiro, Steven Gray and Chris Grossman and inspire the K-League outfit to triumph.
Heart could rightly feel aggrieved with the final result, having bossed the Korean outfit for the bulk of 90 minutes.
They say form is temporary, but class is permanent, and nowhere was this more evident than in the midfield master class produced by Josip Skoko.
The returning Socceroo hero made a seamless return to top flight football, dictating the tempo of the contest as the much vaunted passing game which saw him play in England-s Premier League and the UEFA Champions League came to the fore.
Skoko conjured Heart-s opening chance of the contest with a delicately threaded through ball for Zac Walker, but the National Youth League sharpshooter was only able to direct his effort at Jeon.
The former Wigan Athletic star continued to play the role of puppet master, and ably assisted by an impressive Glen and Jason Trifiro, conspired to place Heart on track for the most unlikely of victories.
Boasting a squad consisting largely of National Youth League players and the best of the Victorian Premier League, Heart were not simply the equal of their more fancied opponents, but the superior, with 16-year old Phil Petreski demonstrating he has a bright future in an impressive display.
Fellow youngsters Kristian Konstantinidis and Josh Groenwald also appeared untroubled by the clear step up in class, showcasing their composure and nous in the face of one of East Asia-s leading outfits.
The Melbourne side were gifted a gilt-edged opportunity to snatch a victory midway through the second half, when Skoko found himself 30-yards out of a vacant goal after a Busan defensive mix-up, only to push his effort wide.
But the final result ultimately proved nothing but a footnote in a performance which cemented Heart-s status as a nursery for Australia-s next generation.