Debutant Golgol Mebrahtu scored a dramatic late winner as Melbourne Heart downed Perth Glory at AAMI Park.
|By Dejan Kalinic
Melbourne Heart debutant Golgol Mebrahtu ended his long wait for his first A-League goal as his 89th-minute winner gave his side a 1-0 victory over Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Mebrahtu, making his 27th A-League appearance but first for Heart, was introduced in the 78th minute and netted 11 minutes later.
The former Gold Coast United attacker struck on the counter-attack to decide the uninspiring affair.
John Aloisi's Heart jumped above Perth and into sixth place thanks to their first win in four matches.
After a scrappy start, Heart carved out the first chance and Josip Tadic should have opened the scoring on three minutes.
The lively Nick Kalmar played the Croatian striker through, but – after his first touch let him down – Tadic could only find the side netting.
Glory winger Chris Harold tested Clint Bolton with a tame effort after a counter-attack from the visitors before the encounter settled into a slow, sloppy affair.
Kalmar's wind-assisted 25-yard effort provided Danny Vukovic with his first serious test and the goalkeeper answered by punching the shot wide.
Heart created another clear-cut chance with six minutes remaining in the half but again they squandered it, with David Williams' left-footed strike lacking the power to trouble Vukovic.
Glory finished the half the stronger and Smeltz went close twice in the space of three minutes.
The New Zealand international headed a Travis Dodd cross inches wide before twisting and turning inside the area, only to squeeze his shot the wrong side of the opposite post.
Tempers threatened to boil over at half-time when Tadic went down after being struck by a stray arm from former Heart full-back Dean Heffernan.
Jacob Burns, unhappy with what he considered to be acting by Tadic, had words with referee Peter Green and Aloisi as the teams headed down the tunnel.
Perhaps fired up by the incident, Heart started the second half brightly with Williams heavily involved.
Tadic headed a cross from Sam Mitchinson wide before Glory started to settle in the second half.
After threatening on several occasions, Glory were only denied by a brilliant stop from Bolton on 62 minutes.
Heffernan found space down the left and cut back for Dodd, whose effort was pushed away by Bolton.
But just two minutes later and Heart should have scored when Williams was released down the left and his cross found Fred, who scuffed his shot wide.
Captains Burns and Fred continued their personal rivalry with the Glory skipper winning a free kick, and Steven McGarry saw his strike shave the post.
Heart again looked dangerous on the counter-attack but wasted another chance through Fred, who headed a well-weighted Williams cross well wide with just over a quarter of an hour to play.
Both teams chased a winner and Heart found it thanks to Sudan-born attacker Mebrahtu, who finally got on the scoresheet.
A long clearance from defence was collected by Tadic on the left and the forward slid a pass into Mebrahtu, who slipped his finish past Vukovic to give Heart three points.