Melbourne Heart used their biggest stage to rise from the foot of the A-League with a 4-0 win over Melbourne Victory.
Goals from Orlando Engelaar, Mate Dugandzic, David Williams and Harry Kewell gave Heart the biggest ever derby win, while equalling the club’s longest winning streak of five.
While Victory were harshly done by with the send-off of Nick Ansell, Heart had two on the board within 20 minutes and could have no complaints with the final scoreline.
Heart surged to the lofty heights of eighth with the win, masterminded in midfield by Engelaar and Massimo Murdocca.
Engelaar repeated his trick from last week, scoring with a tap in at the back post – finishing a move he started after 10 minutes.
The giant Dutchman found Iain Ramsay on the left wing, whose cross was flicked on by David Williams ahead of stand-in keeper Lawrence Thomas to the back post for an easy finish.
Things got worse for the young gloveman five minutes later when Dugandzic’s cross found the back of the net.
Galloping past the retreating Jason Geria, Dugandzic’s cross never found its intended target of Ramsay but instead curved into the far corner of the net, leaving the well-positioned Thomas stranded.
As Victory tried to pick themselves off the mat, the signs of an unhappy team were evident: Mark Milligan and Tom Rogic admonishing teammates for errant passes, Archie Thompson lashing out in a tackle after a string of errors.
While Jonatan Germano and Patrick Kisnorbo earned bookings for a litany of fouls, Ansell found himself in referee Stebre Delovski’s sights after 40 minutes.
Ansell and Williams found themselves in a running race towards Thomas’ goal, the Victory man making the lightest of tugs of Williams’ shirt as he was cleaned up by his own goalkeeper.
Picking himself up, Ansell was joined by the rest of the stadium in surprise at the red card that greeted him, shaking his head as he walked off the ground.
A man down, Victory pushed forward in the second half without success, though Heart could have made it three after 56 minutes when Thomas’ legs denied Ramsay from close range.
Coach Kevin Muscat, who pushed Leigh Broxham back to centre-back in Ansell’s absence, rang the changes but the best chances continued to fall Heart’s way with only a string of good saves from Thomas keeping the scoreline respectable.
After 83 minutes, the pressure told with Williams finishing finely from Dugandzic’s cutback.
Rounding off the win on 86 minutes, Kewell – a late substitute – was given too much space outside the box and thrashed past Thomas to keep Heart’s good times rolling.
Heart boss John van ‘t Schip said despite a “little bit lucky” second goal, his team earnt the great result.
“It’s not always easy to score against 10 men but we did an excellent job to keep the pressure on,” he said.
Muscat said he wouldn’t be using the club’s mid-week Asian Champions League trip to China as an excuse.
“You can’t tell me that travel, fatigue gifts the opposition goals. It was the worst possible start we could have had,” he said.
He hit out at referee Delovski.
“We made it as hard for ourselves as we possibly could with the two goals we conceded … to have someone sent off for something like that,” he said.
“If that’s denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, it’s beyond me.”