Adelaide shares points with Heart

Melbourne Heart's new shareholder, Kiwi sports entrepreneur Bart Campbell, had talked this week of how the magic of its new owner, Manchester City, could rub off on the A-League strugglers, "sprinkling some EPL stardust" on to the team.

That didn't seem likely during much of their encounter with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium; it seemed that if the stardust-spraying glitter fairy was in attendance, she was probably keeping most of her magic all to herself.

But in the end enough of the City lustre did rub off on Heart as the A-League's new "glamour team" came from a goal down at the interval to take a 2-1 lead, only to surrender an equaliser in the last minute of normal time for Adelaide to grab a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

Harry Kewell's penalty, just after the hour, and a first Heart goal for former Socceroo centre back Paddy Kisnorbo in the last quarter of an hour stunned the hosts, who had taken the lead midway through the first period through Bruce Djite.

Having waited the best part of a year to win any game at all, the Melbourne side looked set to make it two in a row under the tutelage of former coach John van 't Schip, who replaced John Aloisi just after Christmas.

That was until new Adelaide signing Ryan Griffiths came off the bench in the dying minutes to turn home a corner to spare the hosts' blushes.

Still, something may well be salvaged from this car crash of a season for Heart after all, and certainly their new owners on the other side of the world will be happy to get the first small dividend on their investment.

Heart's players were clearly buoyed by the extraordinary events of the past 72 hours when they became a subsidiary of the world's richest soccer club and began the game in competent enough fashion, enjoying plenty of possession and territory in the opening 10 minutes but creating little save for a Harry Kewell effort which was deflected for a corner.

Adelaide had won its past two matches and was unbeaten in its last six games going into this fixture making it the A-League's form team.

The prospect of struggling Heart, despite their illustrious new patronage, giving them too many problems would not have loomed as a likely possibility to the Reds' faithful.

Sure, Heart finally snapped that 19-game winless streak last Friday against the Newcastle Jets, but there were question marks over the value of that form: after all, the Jets fired their coach Gary van Egmond just a couple of days later, hardly the sign of a team ticking over in perfect harmony.

Under Spanish coach Josep Gombau, Adelaide has stabilised and hit a decent streak of form as the ex-Barcelona man has tweaked his possession-based style to function more effectively in the A-League.

The Reds began to get themselves into the game when Argentine midfielder Marcelo Carrusca got involved, and he shot over from a free kick after Massimo Murdocca picked up a caution for bringing him down.

The goal that put the Reds in front came from a move down the right when Adelaide's other Argentine, Jeronimo Neumann, fed Osama Malik on the flank.

The full-back's cross was met by youngster Awer Mabil, whose header was well saved by Andrew Redmayne. Reds striker Bruce Djite reacted quickest to turn the rebound home from close range.

Heart defender Rob Wielaert skidded in to try and get a touch on an Orlando Engelaar free-kick that was flicked on, while Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic had to dive to tip away a curling Mate Dugandzic free-kick shortly before the break.

Heart showed its intentions shortly after the restart when Michael Mifsud drove in on goal, but the hapless striker drove wide. Harry Kewell then set up Aziz Behich with a delightful angled ball, but the full-back's cross never threatened.

Adelaide regrouped and began to play at a faster tempo as it went in search of the goal that would kill the game off and, as it did so, the match began to open up.

Heart got back into the game in the most bizzarre of circumstances, eventually from the penalty spot through Harry Kewell.

They should not have needed to, however, had Mifsud scored off a straightforward chance that was presented to him by Murdocca's cross just after the hour mark. The Maltese forward once again missed a sitter, screwing his shot wide of Galekovic. Fortunately for the visitors, Dugandzic got to the ball first, only to be up-ended by Nigel Boogarde, referee Kris Griffiths Jones pointing to the spot.

Kewell, who had struck probably the worst penalty of his long career when he missed one in Heart's December loss to Sydney, made amends with a perfect shot to the left of Galekovic.

It looked as though the points were heading over the border when Kisnorbo headed home from Iain Ramsay's free-kick, until Griffiths late intervention.

The Reds retain their unbeaten run, Heart continues to show signs of improvement. Both have plenty to play for in the rest of the season.

This story Adelaide shares points with Heart first appeared on WA Today.