Heart double downs Glory

Melbourne Heart have extended Perth Glory's miserable run of outs to five with a 2-0 victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Melbourne Heart have extended Perth Glory's miserable run of outs to five with a 2-0 victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Nick Kalmar opened the scoring with a superb first-half free-kick before Eli Babalj doubled the advantage from a goalmouth scramble shortly after half-time.

The Heart had the majority of chances and controlled the tempo of the contest, while Perth, with just two points in eight games since their last win on December 21, continued to look a shadow of the side that reached last season's grand final.

The Heart climbed to fifth on the ladder, nine points behind fourth-placed Adelaide United, while strengthening their finals hopes with a fourth straight win at home for the first time in their short history.

The Glory, on the other hand, remain in last place with just five wins in 20 matches ahead of a clash with the league-leading Central Coast Mariners next week.

Heart coach John Aloisi made two changes to the side that lost to Melbourne Victory, handing defensive recruit Jamie Coyne a Heart debut against his former club.

Kalmar entered the midfield, with forward Josip Tadic and defender Sam Mitchinson both dropping out of a reshuffled line-up due to injuries.

Perth boss Ian Ferguson made three changes to the team which went down to Wellington Phoenix, with Dean Heffernan, Shane Smeltz and Steve Pantelidis returning for Adrian Zahra, Nick Ward and the injured Scott Jamieson.

Both sides started evenly in warm conditions, with Coyne looking comfortable in his new surroundings while Smeltz was the focal point up front for the Glory in his return from a groin injury.

Smeltz almost broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when he capitalised on a defensive error on the edge of the box but was unable to find a way past Heart goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne with a shot that placed too much emphasis on power and not enough on accuracy.

Kalmar struck at the other end of the pitch moments later with a stunning effort that curled over the wall and went in off the crossbar for his first goal of the season.

Babalj had a chance to add a second goal soon after when he pounced on a loose ball in the area before being denied twice in quick succession by resolute Perth goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

The Glory had a golden opportunity to restore parity in the 33rd minute when Chris Harold broke clear on the right wing, but his cross to Liam Miller near the spot instead went untouched.

David Williams forced Vukovic into another diving save with a powerful shot that was on target but parried over the crossbar as the Heart took all the momentum into the interval.

Kalmar came close to finding the net early in the second half with a free-kick that deflected off the wall and rolled agonisingly past the right post.

Babalj capitalised on the resultant corner with a precise finish from a scramble near the spot that Vukovic had little chance of saving.

Perth struggled for opportunities in front of goal, but came closest when substitute Ryo Nagai took control of the ball in the area before mistiming his shot.

The Heart continued to test Vukovic in goal as Jonatan Germano tried his luck with an unsuccessful long-range effort.

The visitors were then left fuming after Patrick Gerhardt appeared to handle the ball in the area in his attempt to block a shot that missed the attention of referee Alan Millner.

Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba made his Glory debut off the bench, but failed to provide the spark needed for a comeback as the hosts ran out comfortable winners.

The Heart travel to take on the Newcastle Jets next week, while Perth welcome Central Coast to nib Stadium.

Bet365 Man of the Match: Nick Kalmar It was one of the best individual performances of the season from any player and his free-kick though early on was the icing on the cake. Kalmar just got better from there showing off all his party tricks throughout the win over Perth.

Melbourne Heart 2 (Kalmar 23, Babalj 56) Perth Glory 0 Crowd: 6096 @ AAMI Park