Dugandzic the Heart breaker for Perth Glory

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A late Mate Dugandzic strike completed a smash and grab performance for Melbourne Heart against Perth Glory on Saturday night at nib Stadium.

The Olyroos forward reacted quickest to a Danny Vukovic save to head home and give his side all three points.

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It was a cagey opening to the game with no real chances of note until Billy Mehmet nodded over from a Bas Van den Brink free kick into the area.

Mehmet was in the thick of the action throughout and his robust challenge on Brendon Hamill left the young Heart defender needing treatment for a head injury but he was able to continue.

Heart striking Eli Babalj was returning to his home state and seemed a little too eager to get involved, picking up a yellow card for a late challenge on Todd Howarth.

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The hosts almost took the lead when a Travis Dodd cross from the left found the head of Mehmet but the goal bound header was superbly stopped on the line by goalkeeper Clint Bolton.

Matt Thompson tried his luck from inside the halfway line but his effort went harmlessly over the bar.

However the Heart skipper didn’t have to wait too long for his next chance and he made the most of it.

Shane Smeltz gave away possession cheaply for Glory on 33 minutes, allowing Aziz Behich to break down the left and play a one two with Babalj.

The winger then found Thompson who cut across the Glory defence before rifling a great shot into the net past Danny Vukovic.

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Glory didn’t let their heads drop and just two minutes later they made the game all square through that man Mehmet.

Some scrappy play in the area involving Smeltz and Dodd saw the ball break to the big striker and he finished calmly, curling the ball low past Bolton’s left hand.

It was Glory’s first goal from open play since Smeltz’s dramatic late equaliser against Melbourne Victory on November 20.

Mile Sterjovski could have sent Glory into half time ahead but he sliced badly wide with his left foot from a tight angle right on the whistle.

Heart started the second half brightly and could have retained the lead on 51 minutes but Babalj headed wide from an outswinging Dugandzic corner.

Chances were few and far between for the next quarter of the game with Dugandzic blazing wide from well outside the area, while at the other end Smeltz came close but his effort from Dodd’s low right wing cross went just over.

Jacob Burns was the next Glory player to clear the crossbar with a fierce drive from 25 yards before being the unlucky recipient of a yellow card for what was a great tackle.

Glory boss Ian Ferguson was incensed inside the last ten minutes when he felt that Shane Smeltz had been tugged in the area but referee Jarad Gillett waved play on.

Having created little of note in the second half, Heart then stole the lead when Dugandzic was on hand to nod home when Behich’s left foot strike had been well parried by Vukovic.

Despite there being four minutes injury time Glory were unable to find an equaliser and left the pitch to a chorus of boos at the final whistle.

Perth Glory: 1 Danny VUKOVIC, 2 Josh MITCHELL, 3 Sebastien VAN DEN BRINK, 4 Billy MEHMET, 7 Jacob BURNS, 9 Shane SMELTZ, 10 Liam MILLER, 13 Travis DODD, 17 Todd HOWARTH, 21 Mile STERJOVSKI, 25 Trent MCCLENAHAN.

Subs: 30 Lewis ITALIANO, 5 Steve PANTELIDIS, 14 Steven MCGARRY, 15 Tommy AMPHLETT.

Melbourne Heart: 1 Clint BOLTON, 2 Michael MARRONE, 3 Brendon HAMILL, 5 FRED, 6 Matthew THOMPSON, 7 Rutger WORM, 10 Wayne SRHOJ, 16 Aziz BEHICH, 19 Eli BABALJ, 23 Mate DUGANDZIC, 25 Adrian MADASCHI.

Subs: 30 Sebastien MATTEI, 11 Alex TERRA, 17 Jason HOFFMAN, 18 Curtis GOOD.

The Football Sack ‘Player of the Year’ points

3 Billy Mehmet
2 Adrian Madaschi
1 Jacob Burns

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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