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Victory too strong for Heart

2 February 2013-AAP

archie thompson melb victory

On their way ... Archie Thompson celebrates his goal with Marco Rojas (Getty)

Melbourne Victory used Melbourne Heart as a step ladder to climb a little closer to the A-League peak with a pulsating 2-1 derby win at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

A delightfully worked first-half goal to Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan's second-half penalty capped second-placed Victory's win as it closed to within three points of league leader Central Coast Mariners.

Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe was perhaps his side's most important player - three huge first half saves denying Heart as a frenetic opening 45 minutes swung in the balance.

With Heart menacing early, Coe was called into action inside six minutes to deny fullback Jeremy Walker.

He produced a gem of a reflex stop from Eli Babalj on 13 minutes then, for the pick of the trio, a diving save high to his left to stop a goalbound Golgol Mebrahtu free-kick just before halftime.

His magnificence between the sticks allowed those outfield to work the necessary magic - midfielder Marcos Flores's superb turn and chip freeing Thompson on 29 minutes to score and put Victory ahead.

Both sides had excellent patches of play in the first half, before Victory were handed a clear advantage early in the second when Heart midfielder Jonathan Germano manhandled Flores in the box off the ball and was caught out by referee Strebre Delovski.

Milligan hammered home the penalty to the delight of the majority of the 41,203 crowd.

But with Victory seemingly in control, a neat individual goal from Heart winger David Williams in which he beat two defenders meant a nervous last 17 minutes for the home side.

Heart's best chance of an equaliser was again created by the lively Williams, whose excellent cross on 76 minutes was headed just wide by Mebrahtu.

Heart goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne also produced two fine saves late in the match to stop Victory going further ahead.

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