Victory, Roar play out 3-3 epic

Melbourne and Brisbane have shared the spoils after a pulsating 3-3 draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night which saw the hosts come from two goals down at half-time to pinch a point.

Melbourne and Brisbane have shared the spoils after a pulsating 3-3 draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night which saw the hosts come from two goals down at half-time to pinch a point.

Five of the six goals were from the top drawer, while the other was a penalty.

The Victory looked destined for consecutive home losses to start the season when Danny Tiatto fired in a long range effort and Sergio van Dijk converted a spot kick to make it 2-0 inside 23 minutes. While Carlos Hernandez pulled one back with a cracking goal of his own, a brilliant run and finish from Henrique made it 3-1 at the break.

However, Melbourne rescued a point when Danny Allsopp turned and fired accurately just after the hour before a Hernandez free-kick bullet on 70 minutes saw both sides claim their first point of the season.

A rollicking first half started on a controversial note, with Archie Thompson booked in just the third minute after falling over in the box under pressure from late inclusion Matt Mundy. Melbourne looked the better team inside the first 20 minutes, with Leigh Broxham putting a free kick into the wall, Archie Thompson finding the side netting and Allsopp forcing a save from Liam Reddy.

But Tiatto turned the game with his audacious effort on 21 minutes. Matt McKay teed up the veteran midfielder out on the right and he hit a brilliant 30-yard shot into the top left which Glen Moss had no chance of saving.

If Melbourne thought that came out of the blue, then it was in for another rude shock. A minute later Rody Vargas turned the ball over in midfield and Henrique charged forward.

The Brazilian looked to have Matthew Kemp beaten in the box, when the Victory defender stuck out a leg and Strebre Delovski pointed to the spot. Van Dijk's spot kick could not have been more clinical, and it was 2-0 after just 23 minutes.

Melbourne was stunned into action and on 32 minutes, Nick Ward got his skates on and powered forward. His angled pass found Hernandez on the edge of the box and the Costa Rican's powerful shot never looked like going anywhere else but the top of the net. It was an appropriate way to mark the Hyundai A-League's 1000th goal.

However, Melbourne's hopes of getting back level at half-time were scuppered by another mazy Henrique run. The Brazilian wasn't waiting to be stopped this time around and, after wrong-footing Kemp and Tom Pondeljak, delivered a quality strike which made it 3-1.

Henrique almost nipped in for a second goal in the opening minutes of the second half, chipping Moss before Vargas intervened on the goal-line. Melbourne looked to shore things up by introducing Billy Celeski for Ward and Ney Fabiano for Grant Brebner, while Brisbane brought on Charlie Miller for Mitch Nichols.

Melbourne was pressing hard to get back in the game and after a concerted period of dominance, finally got its reward on 63 minutes. Kemp had ventured forward and delivered the ball back for Hernandez, who put in a high cross. Allsopp and Luke De Vere contested the ball, it looped in the air and Allsopp turned and smashed it past Reddy to make it 3-2.

Seven minutes later it was 3-3 after Ney Fabiano was upended just outside the box. Hernandez took the free kick and curled it deliciously in from the left past Reddy and sent the home crowd into delirium.

With the momentum behind them, the hosts looked the more likely to conjure a winner and Thompson and Ney Fabiano were both denied by Reddy in the latter stages. Up the other end, van Dijk forced a reflex save from Moss, while Miller miscued a bicycle kick.

Both sides were exhausted late in the match and fittingly it finished level, with both sides getting what they deserved.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Hernandez 32, 70, Allsopp 63) Brisbane Roar 3 (Tiatto 21, van Dijk 23, Henrique 36) Crowd: 18,603 at Etihad Stadium