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Heart ends 19-game A-League losing run

By AAP .
18 January 2014 01:29AM EST

THE Melbourne Heart's 19-match A-League losing streak is over following a 3-1 win over Newcastle on Friday night while the Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar played out a scoreless draw.

Two goals from Mate Dugandzic has steered Melbourne Heart to a 3-1 win over the Newcastle Jets and ended the A-League's longest winless run.

When defender Taylor Regan scored from Newcastle's first real chance of the match, it seemed like the same old story for Melbourne Heart, winless since last February.

Instead, the Heart completed a fairytale finish in their 100th game with a victory to snap a 19-match winless streak going way back to a 3-1 triumph over Sydney FC last season.

First, Iain Ramsay volleyed past Mark Birighitti with help from a Kew Jaliens deflection, then Dugandzic buried a close-range header to give the Heart a lead they never gave up.

It was sweet relief for the Heart, who like so many times during their run had started strongest, but this time turned their advantage into a lead.

Playing in the cool change on the back of Melbourne's heatwave, the Heart showed more attacking intent but were restricted to shots outside the box early.

After six minutes, Ramsay's curling shot was neatly saved by Birighitti, with the resulting corner headed narrowly over by Patrick Gerhardt.

A minute later Harry Kewell, leading the Heart forward in the absence of the dropped Michael Mifsud, called Birighitti into action again with a swerving shot from outside the box.

Despite the absence of any attacking threat from the Jets, the Heart failed to fashion chances on their own pitch and were punished on 37 minutes.

A distracting run from Emile Heskey left Regan alone at the back post and he headed in Craig Goodwin's corner.

Six minutes later, the Heart's reply came from a hopeful long ball headed down by Kewell to the waiting Ramsay.

His volley deflected firmly off the lunging Jaliens to leave Birighitti no chance.

And the Jets struck again in first-half added time with Aziz Behich's pinpoint cross finding Dugandzic unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

The Jets showed more intent after the break, with substitute James Brown twice testing Andrew Redmayne.

In the 60th minute, Heart fans saved a huge cheer for the first appearance of giant marquee Orlando Engelaar, who headed wide from a corner straight away.

And shortly after, Dugandzic raced onto Ramsay's intelligent through-ball to slot his second.

The action then headed to Perth where the Brisbane Roar overcame Besart Berisha's first-half red card to secure a 0-0 draw against Perth Glory at nib Stadium.

Berisha was shown his second yellow card in the 31st minute when he raised his boot dangerously before clattering into Glory defender Michael Thwaite.

Circumstances were similar, and Thwaite again the victim, when Berisha copped his first yellow in the first minute of the match.

Despite going down to 10 men, Brisbane created the better opportunities in the match and were unlucky not to secure all three points.

The result put Brisbane five points clear on top of the table, although that gap will be narrowed to just two if Western Sydney can beat Adelaide on Sunday.

Perth, who entered the match on a two-game winning streak, stay fifth.

The 11,026 crowd roared in pleasure when the red card was shown to Berisha.

The feisty Albanian is enemy No.1 among Glory fans after he won a controversial penalty in Brisbane's 2-1 grand final win over Perth in 2012.

He was in the thick of the action throughout his brief spell on Friday night but his dismissal left the Roar a man short for the second week running.

In last week's 2-1 loss to Adelaide, defender Diogo Ferreira was sent off in the 41st minute.

Chances were few in the first half, but the Roar almost stole the lead on the stroke of half-time when Jack Hingert's 29-metre free kick grazed the base of the upright and bounced away.

Henrique had a golden chance in the 46th minute when a beautiful through ball gave him a clear run on goal.

But with only goalkeeper Danny Vukovic to beat, Henrique sprayed his shot high.

Brisbane encountered a few nervy moments in the final 10 minutes of the match, but they managed to hold on to secure what could end up being a valuable point in the race for the minor premiership.

Star Roar midfielder Thomas Broich made it through the entire 90 minutes despite carrying a corked thigh while Glory's international marquee William Gallas played out the first half in his first game back from a calf injury.

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