Thompson, Milligan power derby win

Melbourne Victory have closed to within three points of A-League leaders Central Coast thanks to a 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory have closed to within three points of A-League leaders Central Coast thanks to a 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

It was Victory's fourth win from their past five matches, and was powered by a first-half Archie Thompson goal and a penalty from Mark Milligan 11 minutes into the second half, with David Williams pulling one back for the Heart on 73 minutes.

In a lively opening, Marco Rojas had an opportunity for Victory in the fourth minute when he was played in by a nice ball from Billy Celeski, but Heart goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was alert to the danger.

A long-range effort from Jonathan Germano forced the first save from Nathan Coe and the Heart had another chance in the eighth minute when Eli Babalj latched onto a cross from Sam Mitchinson, but his effort was just over the crossbar.

Coe pulled off a great save five minutes later when Richard Garcia and Jeremy Walker linked up well on the right, with the latter playing the ball across goal for Babalj, whose shot was deflected off a Victory defender and toward goal to force an acrobatic stop.

Redmayne made a great diving save from Rojas, who was played in by Marcos Flores, with the diminutive winger's effort parried away.

Victory were beginning to assert themselves on the contest and they took the lead on 29 minutes when Thompson latched onto a lovely chipped through-ball from Flores and slotted coolly past Redmayne.

The Heart suffered a blow in the 34th minute when Josip Tadic was forced off with injury, seeing Golgol Mebrahtu enter the fray, and Victory defender Nick Ansell was another casualty soon after, limping off with a groin problem to be replaced by Jonathan Bru.

Thompson could have had another three minutes before the break after a superb run and shot produced an excellent Redmayne save, and Celeski's thunderous drive from the resulting corner rattled the crossbar.

A terrific Mebrahtu free-kick from 30 yards out cannoned off Coe's woodwork in the shadows of half-time, with Victory taking the narrowest of margins into the break.

Thompson blazed an effort over the bar six minutes into the second half after a nice turn, but Victory did not have to wait long to double their lead.

Flores went down in the box after being pulled back by Germano, and Milligan sent Redmayne the wrong way to convert from the spot.

Redmayne produced a pair of fine saves just after the hour-mark, first diving to keep out Rojas' effort and then scrambling to deny Milligan on the follow-up.

Thompson, Rojas and Flores were beginning to give the Heart rearguard the run around, but Williams pulled one back for the Heart against the run of play on 73 minutes when the ball broke his way in the box and he beat two defenders before firing into the top corner.

They were almost back on level terms two minutes later when Williams blazed down the left and crossed for Mebrahtu, who headed wide, and at the other end Redmayne had to dive to keep out Rojas after a great Thompson cross.

Redmayne was at his best again in the 86th minute to tip over a Thompson header, and the goalkeeper made two more solid stops in the dying stages to prevent the scoreline blowing out.

Melbourne Victory: 2 (Thompson 29, Milligan 56 pen) Melbourne Heart: 1 (Williams 73) Crowd: 41,203 at Etihad Stadium