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Jets pinch thrilling draw with Heart
Guy Hand
20:51 AEST Sat Nov 24 2012

Newcastle Jets pinched a late 3-3 draw with Melbourne Heart in the most drama-charged of A-League games at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

The Jets fought back from both 2-0 and 3-2 down, eventually taking a share of the points with an 87th minute Ryan Griffiths penalty.

Referee Jarred Gillett had no hesitation awarding a late spot-kick when Newcastle winger James Virgili went to ground under a combined challenge from Simon Colosimo and Matt Thompson.

Griffiths made no mistake with his coolly-taken spot-kick.

The Heart had led 2-0 at halftime and dominated the opening 45 minutes after being gifted two goals in the first five minutes by the Jets.

With star striker Emile Heskey a virtually unused marquee at one end, the Jets flapped like a tent in the breeze at the other.

A goal after 33 seconds came from Heart's Richard Garcia when Scott Neville steered the ball into his path for the simplest of finishes.

Then Garcia completed the Jets' defensive implosion just a few minutes later when defender Connor Chapman brought him down in the box with a clumsy challenge.

Josip Tadic slotted home the penalty in the fifth minute, and the Heart spent the rest of the half playing champagne football.

Only goalkeeper Matthew Nash kept the Jets in the match, making three important saves - the pick a superb diving save from a Simon Colosimo header on 39 minutes.

The game turned around completely with the introduction of ex-Heart wide man Craig Goodwin on 55 minutes.

Within 45 seconds he had a goal, curling his leg around Heart defender Michael Marrone to make it 2-1.

Jets midfielder Ruben Zadkovich levelled things up in the 63rd minute with a long-range drive.

But the Heart seemed to regain the ascendancy when Garcia grabbed his second in the 72nd minute, finishing off a sweet move from Tadic and Thompson to make it 3-2.

After the match reached a late flashpoint when Heart defender Aziz Behich grabbed Virgili by the throat following a questionable challenge, Virgili then darted into the box and went to ground, forcing the spot-kick which levelled the scores.

Disappointed Heart coach John Aloisi admitted losing the lead twice and missing out on all three points was hard to take.

And he believed the heat, with the temperature in the 30s during the match, took a toll on his players by the second half.

"The first half was working so well, the way we were playing we could have had a few more," Aloisi said.

"The second half ... we lost our shape. We lost our way and they started to play around us a lot."

Jets coach Gary van Egmond believes his men must defend better if they are to be championship threats.

"There's no way known we're going to be serious title challengers while we concede the amount of goals that we're conceding," he said.

"That's something we've definitely got to rectify.

"You come away against a team like Melbourne Heart, you score three goals and you still don't win the game. It's never going to be sustainable."


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