Fifth and sixth on the ladder respectively, the Victory and the Heart both needed wins to bolster their respective finals chances. Previous derbies have been ultra-competitive, entertaining affairs, and this was no different. From the start, the match had a different atmosphere to standard A-league games, the kind not seen since the early Victory vs. Sydney days. Both cheer squads, one navy blue, the other red, chanted for 'Melbourne', and how their team was the only 'legitimate' team in this town.
The Victory started brightly, taking only 10 minutes to register the opener, a slick cross nodded home by Danny Allsopp. As the match settled, possession was more or less shared. It became clear that while the Heart look a much more balanced side on paper, the Victory's presence of one or two game-breakers meant they were always dangerous. This was proven on the half-hour mark when a relatively innocuous free kick was whipped home by last season's player of the year Carlos Hernandez to make it 2-0. Replays suggested he was helped by a Kevin Muscat push on the Heart wall, but the goal stood. Just as the whistle was to be blown for half-time, Melbourne Heart pegged one back, deservedly so from another piece of acrobatic brilliance by Alex Terra setting up John Aloisi.
Only five minutes into the second half, Heart equalised in a similar fashion as Aloisi completed his brace. They continued to penetrate the Victory goal, having no less than 15 more shots, yet could not seem to find the elusive winner. After being sent off in his last game, Victory skipper Kevin Muscat was again shown red for a tackle nothing short of disgraceful on Heart youngster Adrian Zahra. Lunging at Zahra's legs, Muscat completely upended his opponent into a forced front-flip, in doing so severely injuring the youngster's knee. While Muscat has been an ornament to the game in this city, even the most hardened Victory fans will be extremely disappointed in their captain for a tackle that ultimately does not belong on any ground. The tribunal will come down hard on Muscat, whose season could be over.
The incident took the gloss of what was otherwise an entertaining match. Terra had a chance to steal the winner three minutes from time for the Heart but it wasn't to be, the game ending at 2-2. On a lighter note, the crowd of 32,321 was the biggest A-league crowd this season. On a night where both tennis and cricket was on in Melbourne, the healthy crowd size indicated a bright future for football in this town.