Melbourne Heart outlasts GC United
SUBSTITUTE Eli Babalj fired Melbourne Heart to a first win in nine games on captain Fred's return to the side as they outlasted a youthful Gold Coast United side at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Frustrated for large parts of the night by a side made up largely of National Youth League graduates, the Heart finally found their goal in the 79th minute through the lively Babalj after he had come close with a trio of chances.
A 56th-substitute, Babalj quickly became the focal point in attack after a listless first half from the home side and slotted home the easiest of chances to record a 1-0 victory after fine interplay from Fred and fellow substitute Matt Thompson.
Both sides entered the clash without a win in 2012 or in their past eight games with the precious three points now lifting the Heart two points ahead of Newcastle into fifth, ahead of their game away to Perth Glory.
Captain Fred returned successfully after a six-week layoff but the contrast between the free-flowing, confident side sitting second in the table some six weeks ago and the indirect, six-placed version he returned to on Friday, would have alarmed the Brazilian.
Read the full match report at the A-League website.