Melbourne Heart FC settled for a 0-0 draw in a tough and tactical Hyundai A-League 2013-14 opener against rivals Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
In the tenth edition of the Melbourne Derby, both sides had chances to win the match – played in front of a new record derby crowd of 45, 202 – with the Red and White’s best chances falling on the eve of half time.
First, Kewell almost netted a stunner from outside the box in the 41st minute, turning swiftly and firing a powerful shot just wide of Nathan Coe’s goal.
On the stroke of half time, Golgol Mebrahtu fashioned the best chance of the game after a long ball from Patrick Kisnorbo was met by a cushioned header from Kewell.
The ball rolled into the path of Mebrahtu but the striker’s shot on the turn flew wide.
Five Melbourne Heart players - Robbie Wielaert, Patrick Kisnorbo, Andrea Migliorini, Massimo Murdocca and captain Harry Kewell - were handed starting debuts by Head Coach John Aloisi, while Iain Ramsay debuted for the Red and White off the bench.
Melbourne Heart illustrated their potency on the counter attack on a number of occasions and nearly profited from a slick forward move in the 21st minute.
A fantastic through-ball from Kewell allowed Mebrahtu to beat an advancing Coe to the ball, but after rounding the keeper, his shot was too tame to trouble two Victory defenders who covered with their goalkeeper out of position.
A deflected shot from Williams in the 23rd minute illustrated the Red and White’s intent and a Kisnorbo header just missed Coe’s upright seconds later – although the Melbourne Heart man was in an offside position.
Andrew Redmayne was called into action five minutes later to produce a fantastic stop to thwart Adrian Leijer, but was rarely troubled thereafter.
Mate Duganzdic, who returned after missing much of the 2012-13 season, James Troisi and Mebrahtu then exchanged half chances for their respective sides, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.
Mebrahtu and Williams created further chances in the second period without reward, before Heart survived a scare with 15 minutes remaining.
Archie Thompson headed wide of Redmayne’s goal, but both sides settled for a share of the spoils in an entertaining encounter.
Match DetailsHyundai A-League Round OneMelbourne Victory 0Melbourne Heart 0Etihad StadiumReferee: Peter GreenAttendance: 45,202
Melbourne Victory Starting XI: 1. Nathan COE, 2. Pablo CONTRERAS, 3. Adama TRAORE, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 10. Archie THOMPSON (13. Andrew NABBOUT), 11. Connor PAIN, 14. James TROISI (24. Scott GALLOWAY 82’), 15. Mitch NICHOLS, 16. Rashid MAHAZI (7. Gui FINKLER 80’), 23. Adrian LEIJER, 25. Jason GERIASubstitutes not used: 20. Lawrence THOMAS, 4. Nicholas ANSELL,Yellow Cards: Leijer 17’, Mahazi 40’, Broxham 53’, Traore 57’Red Cards: Nil
Melbourne Heart Starting XI: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE, 3. Robbie WIELAERT, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 10. Harry KEWELL (7. Iain RAMSEY 68’), 14. Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 23. Mate DUGANZDIC (22. Nicholas KALMAR 87’), 24. Patrick KISNORBO, 25. Andrea MIGLIORINISubsititues not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI, 6. Patrick GERHARDT, 28. Paulo RETREYellow cards: Kisnorbo 11’, Wielaert 61’,Red Cards: Nil