March 11, 2013
Adelaide United beat Heart 2-0
Adelaide United have all but locked in a home A-League final and left Melbourne Heart's top-six chances creaking with a 2-0 win at AAMI Park on Monday night.
Dario Vidosic's first-half penalty and a second-half goal to winger Iain Ramsay snapped the Reds' indifferent form and Heart's good home run.
The victory lifts Adelaide nine points clear of fifth place with three matches remaining, with the third and fourth-placed sides at the end of the regular season guaranteed home finals.
But Heart now slide to second-bottom after other weekend results went against them, though they are just a win out of the top six in the closely congested battle to make the playoffs.
In front of a crowd of just over 5,000, Heart were left to rue some missed early first-half chances.
Midfielder Nick Kalmar had three good attempts in three minutes and Reds goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was forced into two outstanding saves.
In a tense opening half, Adelaide twice hit the woodwork from long-range shots - early through Tomi Juric and after 32 minutes from Vidosic.
But the game-changer came five minutes before halftime when Reds midfielder Marcelo Carrusca tumbled under high but minimal contact from Heart defender Jeremy Walker, and referee Chris Beath was convinced enough to award a penalty.
Vidosic made no mistake from the spot.
Then Ramsay sealed it on 53 minutes as the Reds unlocked Heart's defence with some neat interpassing, and the winger hammered home from an acute angle.
Adelaide United coach Mike Valkanis was thrilled with his side's whole-hearted victory after several weeks of inconsistency.
"We've had our ups and downs in form and we spoke about it during the week that we have to flick the switch on, and keep it on," Valkanis said.
"We can't keep thinking that we've got games in front of us and we'll be playing finals.
"It was a good professional performance."
Heart coach John Aloisi admitted the defeat would make it difficult for his side to make the playoffs, and felt they should have made Adelaide pay early when they had the chances.
"It's still close. We've still got a chance of making the six. We just have to believe that we can," Aloisi said.
"We've made it hard for ourselves. We should have punished them. Three great chances ... and they weren't causing us problems.
"Then they got the penalty and we struggled. They were better than us after that."
Heart now need maximum points from Saturday's home match against table-topping Western Sydney Wanderers to re-ignite their top-six challenge.
The Reds face a quick turnaround to host Newcastle Jets on Friday night at Hindmarsh Stadium.
|Melbourne Heart||Adelaide United|
|1 Clint Bolton||1 Eugene Galekovic|
|20 Andrew Redmayne||20 Paul Izzo|
|4 Simon Colosimo||3 Nigel Boogaard|
|21 Jamie Coyne||5 Iain Fyfe|
|18 David Vrankovic||6 Cassio|
|11 Richard Garcia||4 Jon McKain|
|16 Marcel Meeuwis||17 Iain Ramsay|
|8 Matt Thompson||10 Dario Vidosic|
|5 Fred||14 Cameron Watson|
|22 Nick Kalmar||22 Fabio Ferreira|
|25 Jeremy Walker||19 Bark-Dogg|
|10 Josip Tadic||8 Marcelo Carrusca|
|15 David Williams||25 Tomislav Juric|
|14 Golgol Mebrahtu||21 Jeronimo Neumann|
|36 Eli Babalj|
|Fabian Barbiero 18|
|Fred for Marcel Meeuwis (46)||Jeronimo Neumann for Tomislav Juric (73)|
|Eli Babalj for Josip Tadic (57)||Fabio Ferreira for Marcelo Carrusca (82)|
|Golgol Mebrahtu for Jamie Coyne (68)||Fabian Barbiero for Iain Ramsay (88)|
|Simon Colosimo (69)||Iain Ramsay (33)|
|Richard Garcia (81)||Jon McKain (42)|
|Tomislav Juric (64)|
|Eugene Galekovic (78)|
|Nigel Boogaard (81)|
|· Squads: Melbourne Heart | Adelaide United|