SYDNEY — Last year's Grand Finalists the Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC opened their 2015 campaigns in Australian football's A-League with draws on Saturday.
Defending champion the Victory lost captain Leigh Broxham to a second yellow card in the 72nd minute in a 0-0 draw away to Adelaide United while Sydney drew 1-1 at home to powerful Melbourne City.
Three-time champion Brisbane shrugged off continuing financial concerns to beat Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 and the Central Coast Mariners opened with a 3-2 home win over Perth.
The Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle will meet in the final match of the opening round in Wellington on Sunday.
The Victory need to make a rapid improvement ahead of what is likely to be a highly-charged derby clash with Melbourne City in the next round.
Melbourne City and Sydney FC are seen as the strongest challengers to the Victory this season and their meeting in the league's first round was a chance to measure that challenge. But both teams seemed over-anxious and a little rusty.
City, who were under-strength and forced to start a front three who were all making their A-League debuts, collected a valuable point on the road, though Sydney seemed in control for much of the second half.
Wade Dekker, Uruguayan Bruno Fornaroli and Argentine Hernan Espindola started up front for Melbourne and Dekker marked his debut with a well-taken goal.
Filip Holosko, who played 62 minutes in his A-League debut, tapped in Sydney's equalizer before halftime. Sydney applied pressure throughout the second half but couldn't achieve a winner: its best chance fizzled when George Blackwood met Rhyan Grant's accurate cross in front of an open goal but placed his volley wide.
A double from new recruit Jame Maclaren lifted Brisbane to a 3-1 win over Western Sydney. Maclaren scored his first from a defensive error in the ninth minute but Mitch Nichols equalized five mintues later.
Goals by Daniel Bowles in the 23rd minute and Maclaren's second from a set piece in the 34th gave Brisbane a convincing win.
Portugese winger Fabio Ferreira scored twice from the penalty spot in Adelaide's 3-2 win over Perth.