Harry Kewell bowed out of professional football on a disappointing night for Melbourne Heart, who fell 3-2 to Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Saturday. The loss also confined Heart to the wooden spoon as the A-League's tenth place finisher, an 'award' the club narrowly avoided last year on goal difference. Kewell did assist on Heart's opener but the home side allowed two goals in the final ten minutes to give the Wanderers second place in the league.
In a game with eleven yellow cards, a missed penalty and five goals, Kewell was still the night's biggest storyline. Among the country's most famous sportsmen, Kewell played his final professional game. Yet the dramatics belonged to the Wanderers, who needed all three points to guarantee a bye through the Elimination Finals to come next week. Brendon Santalab and Youssouf Hersi provided the late goals to keep Western Sydney clear of Central Coast Mariners and stole the points that would have kept Heart just clear of the wooden spoon. Shinji Ono's second half penalty could have put the game away earlier but after his miss and Jason Hoffman's goal almost immediately afterward, the Wanderers needed a late scoring burst just to get back into second place.
For Heart, the complicated, bizarre, exciting season comes to an end with hopes high for the future given the new investment on the part of Manchester City. Western Sydney will await the results of next weekend's Elimination Finals to learn their opponent for the semifinal round to be played April 25 or 27. In the meantime, the Wanderers travel to Korea to face Ulsan Hyundai on Match Day 5 of the Champions League on Tuesday April 15. The following week, Western Sydney conclude its group stage experience in hosting Guizhou Renhe at Pirtek Stadium on Tuesday April 22. The Wanderers are currently second place in Group H and control their own destiny in potential advancement to the Round of 16 which begins in early May.
WSW Topor-Stanley (Ono) 27'
MHT Engelaar (Kewell) 34'
MHT Hoffman (Engelaar) 72'
WSW Santalab (Polenz) 81'
WSW Hersi 86'
Melbourne Heart: Velaphi; Garuccio (Ramsay 87'), Kisnorbo, Wielaert, Hoffman; Mauk (Murdocca 79'), Engelaar, Germano; Williams (Behich 46'), Kewell, Dugandzic
Unused substitutes: Redmayne, Gerhardt
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic; D'Apuzzo, Topor-Stanley, Spiranovic, Polenz; Poljak, La Rocca (Mooy 78'); Bridge (Haliti 65'), Ono, Hersi; Juric (Santalab 78')
Unused substitutes: Tyson, Cole