Two goals in two first half minutes helped 10-man Melbourne City defeat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 in the first Hyundai A-League fixture of 2019.
The visitors stunned the Wanderers late in the opening 45 minutes, capitalising on two defensive fades and producing quickfire strikes from Lachlan Wales and Ritchie De Laet.
City’s two-goal buffer looked less secure following the 57th minute dismissal of Rostyn Griffiths, but the Wanderers were unable to take advantage and saw a miserable evening underlined by Oriol Riera’s missed penalty and some sensational goalkeeping from Eugene Galekovic.
It was a lapse in concentration from the Wanderers defence that saw City break the deadlock, as Wales dashed in behind from a throw in on half way before streaking away and lifting a composed finish over the returning Vedran Janjetovic.
And it got even worse for the hosts when De Laet dispatched a lovely first-time finish after a slaloming run from Riley McGree.
Shell-shocked, the Wanderers attempted to rally in the second half and were handed a boost when Griffiths saw red for his second booking of the night.
And although Markus Babbel’s side struggled to make the most of their man advantage, they were kept at bay by a stunning catalogue of saves from City keeper Galekovic.
The veteran gloveman produced two outstanding stops to deny Alexander Baumjohann and Abraham Majok, while also denying Riera’s tame spot kick to see City comfortably over the line.