Derby thriller ends all square

Melbourne Heart has produced a stirring comeback to earn a 2-2 draw with crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory in a Saturday night Derby thriller at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Heart has produced a stirring comeback to earn a 2-2 draw with crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory in a Saturday night Derby thriller at Etihad Stadium.

The Hyundai A-League's newest club were staring into the abyss when they trailed by two goals after just 31 minutes, but a brace from former Qantas Socceroo star John Aloisi earned Heart a deserved point in front of a record 32,231 crowd.

While disappointed not to come away with all three points, Heart coach John van 't Schip praised his side-s resilience after witnessing a comeback that keeps the club's hopes of making the playoffs in their inaugural season alive.

"If you look at the chances we had, the way we played, yes (we should have won the game)," van 't Schip said.

"We really needed the win, we knew it, but I think even though the win was not on the scoreboard, in every other aspect we were the winners of the game."

The third Melbourne Derby had everything, brilliant goals, absorbing end to end play, nine bookings and a send-off.

The man involved - Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat, was marched from the field 12 minutes from time for a crude challenge on Heart-s Adrian Zahra, who appears to have sustained a serious knee injury.

But with 10 men, the Victory held out resolutely down the stretch to take a point from a match that 30 minutes in they looked like getting three after racing to a 2-0 lead.

Danny Allsopp opened Victory's account when he headed home Matthew Kemp's cross at the far post in the 11th minute.

They doubled their advantage thanks to what can only be described as a Carlos Hernandez special on 31 minutes.

The Costa Rican tends to save his best for Etihad and pulled a stunning 25-metre free-kick out of his sizeable bag of tricks that went like tracer bullet past the despairing Heart 'keeper Clint Bolton into the top right-hand corner.

But the goal didn't come without some controversy as Muscat appeared to lay a rugby-style tackle on Wayne Srhoj which caused a break in the Heart wall that Hernandez exploited to perfection.

Playing for their season, Heart responded and dragged a goal back with virtually the final touch of the first-half through Aloisi.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Brazilian Alex Terra knocked the ball up for himself then launched an acrobatic bicycle kick across the box and the former Qantas Socceroo did the rest.

Aloisi proved why he is the man for the big occasion just six minutes into the second stanza when he again bobbed up at the far post to head home Heart's second goal.

After Simon Colosimo's header rebounded off the bar, central defender Michael Beauchamp was able to fashion a cross over his right shoulder and it was that man Aloisi who was in the right place at the right time.

Having levelled proceedings, Heart set about trying to find a winner with a number of searching forward forays as the clock ran down.

Dutchman Gerald Sibon came close, but it was Terra who spurned Heart's best two second-half chances, letting the Victory off the hook on 85 minutes after being presented with a one-on-one opportunity against stopper Michael Petkovic.

Victory coach Ernie Merrick seemed pleased enough to come away with a point.

"It was a good performance from our senior players, and a learning experience for our younger players," Merrick said.

The draw leaves Victory in fifth place with 34 points from 26 matches, one place clear of the Heart who have 33 points from 27 games.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Allsopp 11, Hernandez 31) Melbourne Heart 2 (Aloisi 45+1, 51) Crowd: 32,231 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne