Van 't Schip unhappy with Muscat tackle

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip has castigated Kevin Muscat for his crude challenge on Adrian Zahra in Saturday night's Derby at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip has castigated Kevin Muscat for his crude challenge on Adrian Zahra in Saturday night's Derby at Etihad Stadium.

The Melbourne Victory skipper was given a straight red card by referee Chris Beath with 11 minutes remaining after a horrendous tackle on the 20-year-old Heart midfielder, who was assisted off the ground with a serious knee injury.

The early prognosis is that Zahra, who joined Heart from Victorian Premier League club Melbourne Knights, looks set to miss 12 months of football.

A visibly upset van 't Schip didn't waste words when quizzed on his thoughts about Muscat's challenge after the game which ended 2-2.

"The tackle was terrible of course," van 't Schip said.

"It doesn't fit on a football field a tackle like that, but it did and hopefully it's not going to end a young career of a great player."

The Dutchman admitted that the seriousness of Zahra's injury had taken the gloss off a spirited fightback by Heart, who had trailed 2-0 after just 31 minutes before a John Aloisi double either side of half-time earned the Hyundai A-League new boys a draw.

"We played well, came back from 2-0 down and showed great character, all the boys did well," van 't Schip said.

"Then something like that happens and you see a boy in the dressing room after the game, it's really heartbreaking to see a young player having tears and a lot of pain."

"You forget very fast about the game and the things we achieved this evening. It shouldn-t be like that, we should be talking about a great game and, sure we're doing that, but the main thing in my head at least is feeling very sorry for Adrian Zahra."

The send-off was the second in as many A-League matches for 37-year-old Muscat, who saw red for a second bookable offence in Victory-s 4-1 defeat to Adelaide United at AAMI Park a fortnight ago.

But it wasn't the only controversial moment the former Socceroo was associated with during a memorable third Melbourne Derby showdown in front of a record 32,231 crowd.

Muscat appeared lay a rugby-style tackle on Wayne Srhoj which caused the Heart defensive wall to open up and Carlos Hernandez capitalised with a 25-yard free-kick that went like a tracer bullet past goalkeeper Clint Bolton and into the top corner.

Van 't Schip revealed that Beath had apologised to him following the match for missing what was a clear foul.

"The referee has already apologised for the mistake he made with the free-kick that he didn-t see it," van 't Schip said.

The comeback draw leaves Heart-s hopes of qualifying for the finals in their inaugural A-League season well and truly 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. For the morale of the team and our supporters, it was a great performance."

They sit sixth with 33 points from 27 games, just behind Victory, who are fifth with 34 points from 26 matches.

Both clubs received a boost when nearest rivals Newcastle Jets were belted 5-1 by Gold Coast at Skilled Park in the game that followed the Derby.