Sydney: New signing Tomi Juric scored three minutes from fulltime to give Western Sydney a 1-1 draw with Central Coast in a grand final rematch which highlighted the opening round of the A-League on Saturday.
Central Coast had only four players left from last season's league-winning lineup and struggled for fluency until the 55th minute when they took the lead through Mitch Duke.
That seemed likely to be enough to seal an opening win but Western Sydney, which reached last year's grand final in its debut season, snatched a point with Juric's headed equalizer.
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold, tipped as a possible successor to sacked national coach Holger Osieck, said his players coped well with fatigue and pressure to start the season with a draw.
"It was a good point. We were disappointed we didn't keep the three," Arnold said. "We're still a work in progress."
Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic felt his team's performance was worth more than a draw.
"I thought we probably deserved a bit more," he said. "But we didn't score when we were dominating in the first half.
"When you get those opportunities you've got to put them away. The character they showed after we conceded was excellent."
The Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory drew 0-0 in a derby played in front of 45,000 fans and in which six yellow cards were handed out. The match became contentious in the 47th minute when a goal-bound shot from the Victory's Adama Traore appeared to have been stopped by the hand of the Heart's Patrick Kisnorbo. No penalty was awarded.
On Friday, Italian star Alessandro Del Piero scored the first goal of the new season, marking his first match as captain and leading Sydney FC to a 2-0 win over Newcastle.