| PHOTO: Jim Webster |
The Melbourne Heart have edged the AIS 3-2 at Epping Stadium this afternoon.
The Heart took a two-goal lead into the break thanks to first-half goals from Ben Garuccio and Evan Batsis.
Groenewald then sealed the result with the third from the spot just after the resumption.
But the AIS through a Marc Marino penalty and Steve Kuzmanovski made the last moments tense.
The Heart got off to a great start, as the AIS’ poor starts continued.
Groenewald’s powerful striker was blocked by AIS ‘keeper Andre Jannese, but former AIS winger Garuccio followed up drilling into the back of the net.
The Heart were controlling the game, but the Red and White were making far too many mistakes at the back, although the AIS attack couldn’t really punish the hosts.
On 23 minutes the Heart doubled their lead as Paul Retre found Batsis, the former Bentleigh striker than drilled emphatically across the face of Jannese and into the bottom corner.
Heart’s half-time lead really should have been a lot greater, however, Jannese pulled of a wonderful reaction save to deny Groenewald, before Batsis scuffed a guilt-edge chance wide.
Three minutes after the break the hosts did grab the much sought after third.
Groenewald was knocked over in the box by Jannese, before the utility stepped up and belted his penalty past Jannese.
Shortly later the Institute were given a penalty of their own as Retre fouled Marino in the area. Marino, like Groenewald, Marino converted the penalty he won after sending Heart ‘keeper Alistair Bray the wrong way.
Substitute Quinn McDonald should have put the result behind the AIS, but failed to hit the target from Ersin Kaya’s cutback.
The Institute went up the other end and made it 3-2 to make the last moments tense, as Kuzmanovski beat a couple defenders and drove his effort into the bottom corner past the outreached hands of Bray.
The Heart, though, were able to hold onto the three points to jump into fourth of the ladder.