Two goals from Mate Dugandzic has steered Melbourne Heart to a 3-1 win over the Newcastle Jets and ended the A-League’s longest winless run.
When defender Taylor Regan scored from Newcastle’s first real chance of the match, it seemed like the same old story for Melbourne Heart, winless since last February.
Instead, the Heart completed a fairytale finish in their 100th game with a victory to snap a 19-match winless streak going way back to a 3-1 triumph over Sydney FC last season.
First, Iain Ramsay volleyed past Mark Birighitti with help from a Kew Jaliens deflection, then Dugandzic buried a close-range header to give the Heart a lead they never gave up.
It was sweet relief for the Heart, who like so many times during their run had started strongest.
Playing in the cool change on the back of Melbourne’s heatwave, the Heart showed more attacking intent but were restricted to shots outside the box early.
After six minutes, Ramsay’s curling shot was neatly saved by Birighitti, with the resulting corner headed narrowly over by Patrick Gerhardt.
A minute later Harry Kewell, leading the Heart up forward in the absence of the dropped Michael Mifsud, called Birighitti into action again with a swerving shot from outside the box.
Despite the absence of any attacking threat from the Jets, the Heart failed to fashion chances on their own pitch and were punished on 37 minutes.
A distracting run from Emile Heskey left Regan alone at the back post and he headed in Craig Goodwin’s corner.
Six minutes later, the Heart’s reply came from a hopeful long ball headed down by Kewell to the waiting Ramsay.
His volley deflected firmly off the lunging Jaliens to leave Birighitti no chance.
And the Heart struck again in first-half added time with Aziz Behich’s pinpoint cross finding Dugandzic unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.
The Jets showed more intent after the break, with substitute James Brown twice testing Andrew Redmayne.
In the 60th minute, Heart fans saved a huge cheer for the first appearance of giant marquee Orlando Engelaar, who headed wide from a corner straight away.
And shortly after, Dugandzic raced onto Ramsay’s intelligent through-ball to slot his second.