A moment of magic from Orlando Engelaar was not enough as the Central Coast Mariners all but extinguished the Heart's faint finals hopes with a 2-1 victory at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Goals from Korean import Kim Seung-yong and pacey forward Bernie Ibini either side of the interval cancelled out Engelaar's outstanding opener as the Yellow and Navy recorded their 10th win of the season, and their eighth win against the Heart in 12 attempts.
The result sends the Mariners up to third on the A-League table, awaiting the Wanderers game against Perth Glory, whilst Melbourne Heart remain in 9th place, seven points adrift of the finals.
Central Coast, who were coming off a 20 hour long flight from China after their midweek ACL loss to Beijing Guoan, are the only team in the A-League not to conceed in the opening 15 minutes, and so it proved again as a strong defensive structure typical of the Graham Arnold / Phil Moss era shed any fears of jetlag or tired legs within the Mariners squad. Both teams effectively cancelled each other out over the opening half hour, where Melbourne created the majority of chances as the Mariners back four suppressed the opportunities; highlighted by a deflected cross from the far touchline rattling Liam Reddy's crossbar before safely being turned away by Marcel Seip.
Engelaar soon lit up the 5,000 strong crowd with a sweet effort from all of 55 metres finding the back of an unexpecting Reddy's net.
As Massimo Murdocca won the ball for the Heart on the edge of the Mariners 18-yard box, the ball floated into the path of Engelaar who steadied with a soft touch and, with brilliant vision and connection, launched a left foot bomb from inside his own half. Liam Reddy could only watch as the ball floated over his head and into the Heart goal in what will surely go down as one of the best individual goals in A-League history.
The Mariners chances were few and far between, and with what seemed like the first shots on goal for the visitors, they levelled the ledger seconds before the half time whistle.
Matt Simon lept highest but couldn't connect with Reddy's long ball and Mile Sterjovski picked up the crumbs, nodding the ball on for Simon on the follow up who then found Kim alone in the box. The Korean cut inside onto his favored right boot before firing past Heart stopper Andrew Redmayne into the bottom right corner to take the momentum away from the home side into the break.
Phil Moss emptied his pacey bench midway through the second half, sending on Bernie Ibini and Mitchell Duke for Mile Sterjovski and Matt Simon respectively, and it didnt take long for the Coast to catch the Heart on the counter and register their second.
Marcel Seip found Ibini on the right flank who then used his pace to pass Parick Kisnorbo in the heart of Melbourne's defence, before placing the ball across Redmayne into the opposite corner and put the Mariners in the lead for the first time on the day.
Impact man Harry Kewell could not provide the spark to get something out of the game for the Red and White, as the Heart slipped to their second loss at home on the trot, and tumbled out of finals contention.
Meanwhile, the boys from Gosford continue to prove that against all conceivable logic, the Mariners can overcome adversity and punch above their weight no matter which players start in the line up, or which man is at the helm of the club. The Central Coast truly are the A-League's version of 'the little engine that could'.