Melbourne Heart welcomed Sydney FC to AAMI Park Stadium for the Round 30 clash that would see two loyal Socceroos servants in Josip Skoko and John Aloisi play their final professional matches.

In careers spanning the Spanish, Italian, English, Turkish, Croatian and Belgian leagues and, of course, achieving the pinnacle for any player in competing for their country at the World Cup in the famed 2006 Socceroos squad, the two have been fine ambassadors for any current or former Socceroos in returning to the A-League.

In a match befitting the occasion, the Heart and the Sky Blues could not be separated with the match finishing two goals a piece.

Kamal Ibrahim was handed his first starting selection with the Heart fielding an attacking 3-4-3 formation including Aloisi at the top, Skoko wide right and Gerald Sibon at number 10. Incidentally, the former Dutch international would be playing his final match on Australian soil on the night.

Sydney fielded an unchanged 4-3-3 line-up from that which saw off Wellington Phoenix at home midweek with Seb Ryall as a ball playing centre-half while the Finnish-Brazilian combination up front continued to build form ahead of the AFC Asian Champions League fixtures in March.

Aloisi started very strongly as a superb piece of invention from a half clearance saw him find the cross bar after he spiked it from his knee for the volley in only the 4th minute.

Just past the half hour mark and Skoko would present Sydney FC with a chance from the spot after manhandling Hiro Moriyasu in the box. Nick Carle obliged, confidently sending Heart ‘keeper Clint Bolton the wrong way.

Straight after half time Dutchman Rutger Worm would level the scores at 1-1. Worm found space in behind a scrambling Sky Blue defence to slot into the roof of Sydney’s goal beyond a lunging Carle and ‘keeper Reddy.

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But as the game hit the hour mark the fairytale for the Socceroos’ hero of November 16, 2005 was complete in his final match scoring a blinder after Wayne Srhoj’s shot was poorly dealt with by Liam Reddy.

As the ball hit the back of the net, AAMI Park stood as one to congratulate the fine former Socceroos striker who remains the only man to score in the big three leagues of Europe; La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League.

As the game drew to a close, Nick Carle hit his second to tie the match up at two a piece as his brace saw Sydney take some semblance of form into the AFC Asian Champions League.

In truth the red card to Red and White talisman Sibon, which saw the Heart play the second half with ten men, ultimately tolled on the Melbourne side. Tired legs meant a lapse in concentration for their defence which experienced campaigner Carle exploited for his brace.

Heart fans shouted for handball by Carle but as the final whistle fell, both sets of fans gave due regard to the occasion and farewelled two of a generation’s finest with warm congratulations for the departing heroes.

Thank you for the service, gentlemen.

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