Melbourne Victory resumed its Hyundai A-League campaign with a 2-1 loss to Western United on Saturday.
Back in action for the first time since March after the coronavirus-enforced break, a youthful Victory fell to defeat at Bankwest Stadium.
Goals either side of half-time from Tomislav Uskok and Max Burgess were enough for Western United despite Storm Roux’s late header.
In his first game in charge, Grant Brebner started teenagers Birkan Kirdar and Aaron Anderson, who made his Hyundai A-League debut.
After being put under early pressure, Victory went close to an opener in the sixth minute.
Andrew Nabbout played Marco Rojas in behind with a wonderful pass from the right, but the New Zealander fired a first-time effort wide.
While goalkeeper Matt Acton palmed away a deflected Besart Berisha strike, Victory continued to look threatening, Nabbout shooting over after being teed up by Elvis Kamsoba in the 19th minute.
After James Donachie produced an excellent last-ditch tackle to deny Berisha, Western United opened the scoring.
Burgess’ cross from the left side of the area found Uskok, who found the bottom corner.
Victory almost levelled prior to half-time, Nabbout firing across the face – and almost finding Rojas to tap in – after a fine pass from Kirdar.
Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio, 18, made his professional debut off the bench as Victory made a good start to the second half.
However, Western United doubled its lead, Burgess powering an effort into the bottom corner after Connor Pain chested down a Steven Lustica cross.
Acton made a strong save to deny Berisha before Anthony Lesiotis volleyed over from the edge of the area in the 66th minute.
Lawrie-Lattanzio forced a good stop from Filip Kurto from 25 yards before Victory pulled a goal back.
Roux met a Rojas corner with seven minutes remaining, guiding a header into the corner to make it 2-1, but Victory was unable to find an equaliser despite a late push.
Player in focus
What they said – Kirdar
on the game…
“I enjoyed getting out there with the boys and I’m looking forward to next Wednesday.”
on facing the likes of Alessandro Diamanti…
“It’s obviously surreal to play against players like that, but I just thought I was playing random players like week in, week out.”
“He’s been amazing towards me and towards the whole team as well. He’s just told us to get out there and do your own thing, get in behind, making runs in behind and try and score.”
Hyundai A-League 2019/20
Melbourne Victory 1 (Storm Roux 83′)
Western United 2 (Tomislav Uskok 38′, Max Burgess 57′)
Melbourne Victory: Acton (gk); Roux, Donachie, Anderson, Traore; Broxham (c) (Barnett 76′), Basha (Lesiotis 58′); Kamsoba (Lawrie-Lattanzio 52′), Kirdar (Lauton 76′), Rojas; Nabbout.
Western United: Kurto (gk); Risdon (Calver 45′), Imai, Durante, Uskok, Pain; Burgess, Pasquali (Skotadis 80′), Lustica; Diamanti (c), Berisha (Pierias 90′).
Yellow cards: Anderson 14′, Basha 57′, Diamanti 65′, Imai 89′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Victory is in action again on Wednesday, when it faces Brisbane Roar at Bankwest Stadium.