In front of the biggest A-League crowd for the season, the Heart took the lead at AAMI Park in the 10th minute when veteran striker John Aloisi netted with a header before Robbie Kruse equalised for the Victory 17 minutes later with a deft touch.
However, the new kids on the block went ahead again in the 56th minute thanks to a well-timed Alex Terra volley and managed to hold on to their lead despite Aziz Behich being sent off with a quarter of an hour remaining to record a confidence-boosting win against their more established Melbourne rivals.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Ben Williams
Yellow cards: MH - John Aloisi 40’, Aziz Behich 48’, 74’
MV - Adrian Leijer 23’, Kevin Muscat 43’, Grant Brebner 55’, Billy Celeski 64’, Ricardinho 68’
Red card: MH - Aziz Behich 74’
The atmosphere was at fever pitch for the first-ever A-League Melbourne derby with both sets of fans in full voice although it was obvious the established Victory supporters were the ones making the most noise.
There were early headed chances from Victory’s Roddy Vargas and Heart’s John Aloisi and an 8th minute shot from Rutger Worm which rasped the gloves of Victory’s Michael Petkovic in an exciting opening that had the AAMI Park crowd on their feet.
GOAL In the 10th minute, Victory’s ‘little brothers’ the Heart took the lead when Wayne Srhoj played a through ball for Alex Terra who beat off Vargas before chipping back from the byline for an approaching Aloisi who headed home much to the delight of the A-League club’s newest fans.
The Heart looked menacing after the goal but as always, the Victory settled things down and began to control proceedings and almost equalised with a potential top notch goal when Carlos Hernandez chipped forward for Ricardinho who flicked an audacious volley over the head of Heart keeper Clint Bolton but fortunately for the ‘home’ side it fell to safety.
Heart managed to get back on top as the half went on and were inches away from a second in the 31st minute when right-back Michael Marrone crossed for Aloisi whose flick bounced off the upright before Adrian Leijer cleared it for the Victory.
Things were looking ominous for the Victory as the Heart pressed on with plenty of pace and pinpoint passing but it was a pinpoint pass down the other end that got the Victory back on level terms.
GOAL Skipper Kevin Muscat took a quick free-kick from the right flank which found Robbie Kruse who was able to tuck it past Bolton to make it 1-1 in the 37th minute.
It was a very entertaining opening 45 minutes with the Heart looking much more dangerous as the players headed into the dressing rooms.
Things evened out early in the second half until GOAL the Heart again took the lead when Rutger Worm played a cross from the right flank to Terra who was unmarked at the back post and managed to side foot a volley past Petkovic to make it 2-1 in the 56th minute.
It was a much-deserved reward for the Heart who had dominated large parts of the match and now had the lead to show for it.
Victory were in desperate need of a leveller so coach Ernie Merrick threw Mate Dugandzic and Geoff Kellaway on to add some bite up forward and that equaliser should have come in the 70th minute when Leijer found Hernandez from the right flank with a well-hit cross but the Costa Rican couldn’t control his header and the Heart were able to maintain their advantage.
Things changed dramatically for the Heart in the 74th minute when left-back Aziz Behich was sent off for a second yellow card against his former club at the same time as John van ‘t Schip made two changes, bringing off Gerald Sibon and Josip Skoko for new signing Adrian Zahra and promising midfielder Nick Kalmar.
The Victory toiled to earn a point but they were not good enough to score in a hectic final few minutes as they were in the end shown up by their lesser experienced counterparts who may have finally arrived as a genuine A-League outfit.
Clint Bolton (gk), Michael Marrone, Michael Beauchamp, Matt Thompson, Rutger Worm, Gerald Sibon (Zahra 75’), Wayne Srhoj, Alex Terra, John Aloisi (Hoffman 83’), Josip Skoko (Kalmar 75’), Aziz Behich
Subs - Peter Zois (gk), Jason Hoffman (83’), Nick Kalmar (75’), Adrian Zahra (75’)
Michael Petkovic (gk), Kevin Muscat, Surat Sukha (Dugandzic 57’), Leigh Broxham (Brebner 38’), Ricardinho (Kellaway 69’), Roddy Vargas, Billy Celeski, Tom Pondeljak, Carlos Hernandez, Robbie Kruse, Adrian Leijer
Subs - Sebastian Mattei (gk), Mate Dugandzic (57’), Grant Brebner (38’), Geoff Kellaway (69’)