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AUSTRALIAN A-LEAGUE

AAMI Park

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Wanderers go top after beating Heart

Shannon Cole celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Melbourne Heart.

For all of their huffing and puffing, Melbourne Heart look like a team out of ideas as they lost 1-0 in the A-League match to the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Saturated and defeated by a Shannon Cole sucker punch, the result will heap more pressure on struggling Heart coach John Aloisi.

As the rain poured down in the second half, a glimpse at the two coaches was instructive.

Wanderers' Tony Popovic was sheltered by an umbrella, while a stoic Aloisi was drenched by the rain.

It was the second week in a row Heart had the better of the first half without reward - but unlike their trip to Brisbane last week, the Wanderers didn't wait to punish them.

In the 27th minute, Adam D'Apuzzo's cross was nodded on by Tomi Juric to Shannon Cole at the back post who thrashed past Andrew Redmayne on his second attempt.

The Wanderers' height advantage troubled the Heart, with no-one taller than 6 feet in defence.

Just minutes after Cole's opener, Shinji Ono found the towering Matthew Spiranovic who headed onto the bar, the rebound catching Brendon Santalab unawares who headed over from a metre in front.

Despite seven shots to two in the first half, the closest the Heart came was a long shot which rattled the crossbar from David Williams.

He increasingly became the fulcrum of Heart's creative efforts as the match went on but was surprisingly replaced by Nick Kalmar.

Entering the final frenetic minutes, Mate Dugandzic headed against the bar for Heart and Kalmar headed over.

As Heart committed more men forward, substitute Labinot Haliti fired just wide and Juric chose to shoot rather than pass to the open Aaron Mooy.

Still, Popovic cannot complain with the gritty victory that sees his side top of the league.

At the final whistle, it was hard to escape the conclusion that Aloisi must wish he could call on Harry Kewell, stuck in the stands with an ankle injury.

Aloisi's side finished last season with five losses and will find himself under increasing pressure as long as he fails to break through in this campaign.

Despite his side's perilous position, Aloisi was not sounding the alarm bells.

"Of course we'd like to have more points and we think that we deserve more points but the reality is we haven't so we'll keep working," Aloisi said.

"We played against a good side in Western Sydney who only had Hersi out, we've got seven out.

"I thought we created enough opportunities to get something out of the game."

Popovic said his side deserved the points.

"We played a team that you could see were desperate for points, and gave everything they had," he said.

"We didn't put them away as we should have ... there were a few scrambles there, the boys defended desperately and kept a clean sheet and got us the points."

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