Melbourne Heart faces a tough task to keep their finals hopes alive after they were comprehensively beaten by Adelaide United on Monday
|By JONATHAN HEALY
Adelaide United put a big dent in Melbourne Heart's finals chances with a 2-0 victory at AAMI Park on Monday.
Dario Vidosic converted a soft penalty late in the opening half, before Iain Ramsay scored his fifth goal of the season shortly after the resumption to seal Adelaide's first triumph away from home in eight attempts.
Despite the question marks surrounding the penalty, Adelaide's victory was well deserved as they created the better chances throughout the game and were able to hold on to the ball more than their opponents.
Heart's best opportunities fell to Nicholas Kalmar early in the contest, but he either missed the target when he should have scored, or was denied by an inspired Eugene Galekovic in Adelaide's goal.
If Kalmar had taken one of his chances the match may have played out differently, but the visitors fully deserved their 12th triumph of the season.
Adelaide remain fourth on the table after the win, but draw within one point of Melbourne Victory in third place and six off the Central Coast Mariners in second.
Heart stay second bottom with 27 points, with sixth-placed Newcastle Jets three points ahead of them in the last finals berth and time seemingly slipping away for John Aloisi's side to feature in the post-season for the second consecutive year.
Adelaide striker Tomi Juric fired a warning shot in just the second minute of the contest as he let fly from outside the box with a powerful strike that propelled into the left upright and back into play.
Ramsay was getting plenty of touches down the left for Adelaide, but similarly Jeremy Walker was afforded space down the right for the hosts and was looking just as dangerous.
It was Walker that floated in a tantalising cross for Josip Tadic in the 10th minute, but Galekovic was on hand to keep the Croatian out with a smart save and Kalmar shot over when the rebound fell to his feet.
Kalmar was then guilty of missing a pair of gilt-edged opportunities in quick succession, although an outstretched Galekovic did well to keep his well-placed effort from nestling in the back of the net.
Clear-cut chances began to desert both teams as the half wore on, with Vidosic's long-range effort that cannoned into the crossbar on the half-hour mark the best the visitors could muster until the opening goal came in the 40th minute.
Marcelo Carrusca went down inside the area under a soft challenge from Walker to earn a penalty and Vidosic kept his cool to send Andrew Redmayne the wrong way with the ensuing spot-kick.
Fred's introduction at the half-time break gave Heart a bit more grunt in midfield, but Adelaide were still able to fashion the best opportunities as Juric went close with a couple of half chances.
The second goal did arrive though and it came through the underrated Ramsay, with the midfielder lashing home powerfully past Redmayne after a cute set up down the left by Cassio.
That goal did little to spark Heart into action and not even the introduction of Eli Babalj and Golgol Mebrahtu could ignite the home side as Adelaide continued to control proceedings in front of a sparse Melbourne crowd.
Some fancy footwork from Mebrahtu did earn Heart a rare corner, while Babalj shot well over with an effort he should have done better with.
But that was as good as it got for the hosts as Adelaide controlled the tempo of the game and cruised to an easy victory.