After dominating most of the first half, Adelaide were finally rewarded in the 58th minute when Jeronimo Neumann scored the match winner to keep the Reds in the top two.
|By STEVE BARRETT
Adelaide United consolidated their top-two standing on the A-League ladder with a workmanlike 1-0 victory over Melbourne Heart at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday.
Star striker Jeronimo Neumann slotted a goal for the Reds in the 58th minute - his fifth this season - to deny first-year Heart coach John Aloisi in his home state.
It was a just result for Adelaide, which bossed the majority of the first half but were unable to capitalise early as the visitors held their nerve under pressure.
Some friendly fire three minutes in following a head collision between team-mates Michael Marrone and Simon Colosimo saw the Heart down to nine men momentarily as the pair went off for treatment.
Otherwise, the opening salvos were largely uneventful, despite play being predominantly on the Reds' terms.
Cassio pushed a good-looking shot over the crossbar in the 22nd minute to set the home side into motion.
From close range a minute later, Argentine duo Marcelo Carrusca and Neumann were denied by some desperate scrambling from veteran Melbourne stopper Clint Bolton.
With Dario Vidosic directing traffic with aplomb, Cassio playing superbly, Iain Fyfe dangerous and Portuguese Fabio Ferreira winning his right wing, United were looking sharp.
Meanwhile, the impressive Richard Garcia pushed high repeatedly and showed his class, while skipper Matt Thompson and Jason Hoffman were doing their best to hold Heart's midfield together.
Thompson gave Melbourne their best first-half chance, breaking to the left in the 35th minute, but his miscue was comfortably mopped up by Adelaide custodian Eugene Galekovic.
Three minutes later, the Reds missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
After a Colosimo defensive error, Jeronimo, who had been relatively quiet, had a shot which Bolton just got his outstretched right hand to.
In the 45th minute, Jeronimo pulled the trigger again, driving a fierce ball just wide before Evan Kostopoulos, in time added on, unleashed a shot from the flank which whizzed past Bolton's right post.
The signs were better for the visitors early in the second half with Garcia twice cutting inside the box and getting behind Adelaide's defence, but despite his efforts the deadlock remained.
United weathered the brief Heart storm and resumed control with Jeronimo working his way into the contest.
The home side were finally rewarded for their all-round ascendancy when they took the lead in the 58th minute courtesy of an uncharacteristic defensive blunder from seasoned central defender Colosimo.
The former Socceroo coughed up an errant kick which was won by Vidosic. The ball then fell to the feet of hungry Jeronimo, whose shot from outside the box took a deflection off Patrick Gerhardt and left Bolton flat-footed.
Adelaide could smell blood and continued to hold sway.
Vidosic, Kostopoulos and Fyfe all went close, ensuring the Heart defenders earned their keep.
In contrast Melbourne did not have any answers in attack and will need to revert back to the drawing board following last Friday's 4-1 massacre of Brisbane Roar.