THE Newcastle Jets came back from the dead twice to snatch a miraculous 3-all draw with Melbourne Heart in a amazing game at AAMI Park tonight.
The Jets trailed 2-0 after five minutes and 3-2 with five minutes remaining.
But a penalty to Ryan Griffiths in the 86th minute after substitute James Virgili was brought down by Simon Colosimo enabled the visitors to secure an unlikely point.
The Jets looked gone for all money when Richie Garcia scored after 35 seconds and Josip Tadic added a second from the penalty spot four minutes later.
Indeed, the Heart dominated the opening 55 minutes but the introduction of Craig Goodwin sparked a spirited fightback from the visitors.
The former Heart attacker had been on less than a minute and had a goal back for the Jets, getting on the end of a Ruben Zadkovich cross and squeezing an angled shot past Clint Bolton.
Zadkovich did it all himself eight minutes later when he produced a thunderbolt from 25 metres to level the scores.
The drama wasn't over.
Garcia shifted momentum the Hearts way again when he collected his second, slotting home a Matt Thompson cross at the far post in the 71st minute.
It was helter skelter for the final five minutes in a game of twists and turns, but neither side was able to grab a winner.
‘‘We started the game the way we started last week,’’ Zadkovich said after the match.
‘‘To concede two was very disappointing.
‘‘But to be ble to comeback twice ... we’ve done that a few times, which shows we’ve got that Newcastle spirit and that’s what the fans want.’’
Hoping to tighten up a defence that had leaked 13 goals in seven games, van Egmond made four changes.
Young Socceroos defender Connor Chapman came in for his starting debut at the expense of Tiago.
Matt Nash replaced Mark Birighitti (fractured jaw) in goals, Dominik Ritter returned from a quad strain for Josh Brillante and Brazilian playmaker Bernardo Ribeiro replaced James Virgili.
As expected, Heart captain Fred returned from a hamstring injury in place of Mate Dugandzic (broken foot).
The changes did little to stem the flow of goals against the Jets.
Only 35 seconds had elapsed when Garcia put the home side ahead.
Patrick Gerhadrt knocked a diagonal pass over the top intended for David Williams.
Jets fullback Scott Neville stuck out a foot, hoping to clear, but instead the ball fell to an unmarked Garcia who slotted past Nash.
It only got worse for the Jets.
Chapman made a horror introduction four minutes later, collecting the foot of Garcia in the box. The contact wasn't severe but it was enough to fell the former Socceroo and referee Jarred Gillett had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Tadic sent Nash the wrong way as the heads on the Jets bench slumped.
Williams had a chance to make it 3-0 in the 15th minute but was unable to control a volley on the run after put in space by Tadic.
Jobe Wheelhouse interrupted the Hearts momentum momentarily with a crisp shot from 20 metres which was plucked out of the air by Clinton Bolton.
Other than that the first half was all Heart.
They pressed high up the pitch and put the blowtorch on the Jets as they tried to play out from the back.
Nash had not made an A-league appearance in almost a year but made up for lost time.
After turning over possession inside the penalty area, he recovered quickly to parry a William shot over the bar. He then had to climb high to finger a Simon Colosimo header over the woodwork from a well-worked set piece.
Half-time was a welcome relief for the Jets.
The Jets made a slightly better start to the second half, but van Egmond had seen enough by the 55th minute and introduced Goodwin for James Brown.
The 20-year-old former Heart flyer was greeted with boos by his former fans.
He silenced them a minute later when he got on the end of Ruben Zadkovich cross as the back post.
All of a sudden the Jets were a different team.