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A-LEAGUE WRAP - Week 1: Victory and Sydney play out stalemate as Brisbane kick-off title defence with a win

The 2011/12 A-League season kicked off on the weekend with three of the 10 teams recording winning results to kick of the campaign.

On Saturday evening at Ausgrid Stadium, the Newcastle Jets bounced back from their midweek sacking of head coach Branko Culina to score a 3-2 win over Melbourne Heart.

The visitors took the lead in the 24th minute when former Jets forward Jason Hoffman cut back for ex-Melbourne Victory striker Mate Dugandzic who finished from just outside the six-yard box before Newcastle leveled when Ryan Griffiths curled in a spectacular free-kick in the just after the hour-mark.

On the stroke of half-time, Griffiths put the Jets in the lead thanks to his second from a bobbled shot from inside the area before the Heart equalised six minutes into the second half when new signing Fred found Dugandzic with a well-weighted cross which was dispatched into the back of the net. However, the Jets would eventually salute for interim coach Craig Deans when Byun Sung-Hwan's seemingly innocuous shot in injury time took a deflection off Heart defenders and somehow found its way into the back of the net to give the home side maximum points.

In Melbourne on Saturday night, the match of the round featuring Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, with their new signings Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton in tow, did not quite live up to expectations as both sides failed to score making it a 0-0 draw in front of more than 40,000 fans at Etihad Stadium. Victory keeper Ante Covic saved a first-half Emerton penalty whilst Sky Blues attacker Mark Bridge was sent off in the second half after a tussle with Victory defender Roddy Vargas.

The 2010/11 Grand Final rematch between Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners went the way of the home side at Suncorp Stadium with Mitch Nichols' 72nd-minute winner the only goal in the 1-0 scoreline. The Roar dominated proceedings and would have had many more on the scoreboard if it wasn't for the brilliance of Mariners gloveman Mathew Ryan.

On Sunday, Gold Coast United recovered after Wellington Phoenix went ahead in the 17th minute through Chris Greenacre. James Brown provided the goods two minutes from time with a magnificent individual effort which culminated in an inch-perfect looped shot from outside the area to make it 1-1 whilst Perth Glory new boy Billy Mehmet headed home on his debut to give his side a 1-0 win over Adelaide United for their first-ever season-opening win.

2011/12 A-League season scores - Week 1

Newcastle Jets: 3 (Ryan Griffiths 31'/45+1', Byun Sung-Hwan 90+1') Melbourne Heart: 2 (Mate Dugandzic 24'/51') Ausgrid Stadium, Newcastle - 12,467

Melbourne Victory: 0 Sydney FC: 0 (red card: Mark Bridge 74') Etihad Stadium, Melbourne - 40,351

Brisbane Roar: 1 (Mitch Nichols 72') Central Coast Mariners: 0 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - 13,467

Gold Coast United: 1 (James Brown 88') Wellington Phoenix: 1 (Chris Greenacre 17') Skilled Park, Robina

Perth Glory: 1 (Billy Mehmet 76') Adelaide United: 0 nib Stadium, Perth

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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