A solitary Roderick Miranda header saw Western United fall to a 1-0 defeat against Melbourne Victory in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men season opener.
John Aloisi opted for an unchanged line-up from the FFA Cup play-off last weekend, where United defeated Newcastle Jets 2-1.
That meant Aleksandar Prijovic had to wait a little longer to make his A-League Men debut, but there were first starts in league action in Green and Black for Jamie Young, Leo Lacroix, Ben Garuccio, Neil Kilkenny and Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
Victory applied much of the pressure in the opening 15 minutes, but Leo Lacroix and Tomoki Imai were brilliant defensively to ensure Jamie Young didn’t have a save to make.
Going the other way, United combined well without any meaningful chances on goal, with Josh Risdon and Lachie Wales particularly effective down the right-hand side.
Ben Garuccio had the first shot on target just shy of the half hour mark. Some lovely build-up play down the left resulted in the No.17 having a low shot parried out for a corner.
Wenzel-Halls had a couple of half chances towards the end of the half, but it wasn’t enough to impact the score line heading into the break.
Victory had an early penalty shout waved away as the players appealed for a handball after a shot on goal.
Connor Pain had a big sight of goal in the 56th minute, but he couldn’t direct his shot away from Ivan Kelava in the Victory goal after being picked out by Risdon’s cut back.
The visitors took the lead with 15 minutes to play with stand-in captain Roderick Miranda stooping to head home a Jake Brimmer corner.
Alessandro Diamanti thought he had earned United a penalty when Jason Davidson went to ground in the box, but the referee and the VAR denied the Italian’s appeals.
A headed chance for Aleksandar Prijovic failed to hit the target in the 88th minute as the hosts searched for an equaliser, but it wasn’t incoming as United slipped to defeat in the season opener.