Mileusnic hat-trick takes Adelaide to FFA Cup semis
IT WAS the fall George Katsakis would have feared was coming for his side.
Try as Heidelberg might to keep its wondrous season ticking along, its giant-killing FFA Cup run was brought to an end by a fresher and far more clinical Adelaide United at Olympic Village.
Nikola Mileusnic starred for the visitors, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 win that sent Adelaide to the last four and kept its hopes alive of becoming the first club to win the FFA Cup twice.
It was a fiery encounter from the outset.
And on a cold spring night - and on a pitch that was far from pristine - this would have felt like a true European-style Cup clash for the visiting A-League side.
But while the challenges from Heidelberg flew in thick and fast, on the scoreboard the horse had all but bolted within 11 minutes.
Ryan Kitto slid a brilliant ball across the face of goal in the third minute for an unmarked Mileusnic to tap in at the back post.
And when it became 2-0 eight minutes later after a George Blackwood cut back from the byline found Mileusnic again, there were alarm bells ringing across the 3967 crowd.
Beaten 5-0 at the same stage and at the same ground by Melbourne City two years ago, Heidelberg would ultimately go on to improve on that result last night.
But there was far more expectation going into this game given all it had achieved so far this year.
There was the Round of 32 boilover against Perth Glory, while domestically it won the Victorian league, won the Dockerty Cup and made it all the way to the NPL Victoria grand final only to lose in extra time to Bentleigh on Sunday.
And it was those successful runs on multiple fronts that eventually told.
In total Heidelberg has played 37 games since its season started on February 11.
But rather than toss it in, the Bergers ended their stay in this competition admirably.
And that will send them into their national NPL quarterfinal against Bayswater City in Perth on Sunday with valuable momentum.
Despite the 120-minute marathon against the Greens three days ago, Katsakis only made two changes to his starting line-up.
And so it was a credit to the hosts that the remainder of the first half was played largely on its terms.
But a disallowed goal for offside was a sucker punch shortly after half time, followed by Mileusnic's third on the hour.