Archie Thompson bobbed up deep into injury time to score the winner as Victory defeated Heart in a thrilling derby.
|By IAIN STRACHAN
An Archie Thompson goal in the last minute of injury-time helped Melbourne Victory claim just their second A-League derby triumph over city rivals Melbourne Heart in a dramatic 2-1 result at AAMI Park.
Victory led through Marco Rojas' strike in the 67th minute of Saturday's match, before Heart skipper Fred levelled and seemingly earned a point for his team with eight minutes remaining.
Thompson then pounced in the final seconds of the game, chipping Clint Bolton and guiding the ball across the line by the narrowest of margins, sparking pandemonium among the Victory supporters.
A match which ended in such breathless drama fittingly began at an equally blistering pace and Victory were nearly rewarded for some slick early passing.
Simon Colosimo flirted with danger when he brought down Guilherme Finkler inside the area, but referee Alan Milliner deemed the Heart centre-back to have won the ball fairly.
That narrow escape proved the cue for a period of dominance for the team in red and white, who threatened through a Jonathan Germano cross which Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe barely got a fist to.
Heart registered a penalty claim of their own in the 10th minute, when Diogo Ferreira halted the flying run of David Williams, Milliner adjudging contact to have been made inches outside the box.
Coe punched away the subsequent free-kick and Victory were able to counter.
A delightful pass with the outside of the boot from Marcos Flores played in Rojas, who advanced into the area, cut inside his opponent and curled Victory's first real chance just wide of the far post.
Three minutes later and Coe endured a nervy moment when he spilled the ball under pressure from Josip Tadic, who saw his shot deflected behind off the heel of Adrian Leijer.
From the resulting corner, Richard Garcia dispatched a powerful header which seemed destined for the back of the net, only for Rojas to clear off the line.
Heart dominated possession early in the second 45 minutes, but it was Victory who enjoyed the first sight on goal.
Two minutes past the hour mark Spase Dilevski, on as a substitute in place of Ferreira, did well to drive into the area and cut back for Thompson, who hooked a shot toward goal, before Bolton pounced to smother the ball.
Heart failed to heed the warning shot and five minutes later, Victory made the long-awaited breakthrough.
Mark Milligan arrived late into the area and sent a pass across the face of goal, with Rojas perfectly positioned to seize on a deflection, picking up the loose ball and guiding his shot beyond Bolton to make it 1-0.
Heart responded by renewing their assault upon Victory's goal, but as each opportunity went begging, it began to look like Heart would have nothing to show for their dominance.
They almost found themselves 2-0 down when Bolton spilled a speculative effort from Finkler in the 80th minute. Thompson was unable to tuck home the rebound, and substitute Andrew Nabbout was ruled offside when he slid home at the third attempt.
Perhaps that was the jolt John Aloisi's team needed to finally convert one of their numerous chances, because in the 82nd minute, Heart finally forced an equaliser.
Fullback Michael Marrone reached the by-line and delivered a cross to the centre of the penalty area where Fred, timing his run to perfection, arrived to head unmarked beyond the helpless Coe.
With the clock ticking down it looked like both teams would have to settle for a hard-fought point, but Victory's livewire duo of Rojas and Thompson had other ideas.
Rojas, a danger all night from wide positions, broke away at pace and played in Thompson, who dinked his effort over Bolton.
The ball clipped the crossbar and post before spinning back into goal and being cleared by Behich.
Confusion reigned as Victory players and staff celebrated wildly, while Heart counterparts appealed to the referee, insisting the ball did not cross the line.
Milliner and his assistant had seen enough, correctly awarding the goal and the points to Victory as the conclusion to the Melbourne derby lived up to all expectations.