Dodgy goalkeeping and contentious refereeing could not deny Melbourne Heart, who won their first home game under new ownership 2-1 on Friday night against Sydney FC.
Orlando Engelaar’s red card after half an hour was quickly followed by Corey Gameiro’s opener, turning an open contest temporarily into a closed shop.
But Heart came out from the half-time break like a team possessed, fashioning a madcap equaliser through Jonatan Germano after 52 minutes and sealing the win through substitute David Williams’ breakaway.
In front of a delegation from Manchester City, Heart set their stocks out to attack, playing with just three in defence and another in Alessandro Del Piero’s pocket.
Aziz Behich was enjoying a more attacking role and, from a Sydney corner on 15 minutes, dribbled the length of the pitch, laying the ball off for Harry Kewell only to strike the return pass just wide.
A magic Del Piero stepover then gave Milos Dimitrijevic space to clip the bar with Andrew Redmayne well beaten.
But the match was transformed on 33 minutes when Hagi Gligor’s neat turn led Engelaar to plant a foot on his shin.
Referee Jarred Gillett wasted no time dismissing Engelaar when a yellow might have sufficed, though the giant Dutchman showed a commitment to the robust tackle.
With the crowd barely finished booing the red card, Gameiro had the ball in the net five minutes later.
Ali Abbas’ cross took a deflection off Jason Hoffman’s back to head straight to Redmayne, and the keeper could only palm the ball to a delighted Gameiro.
Gillett continued to frustrate Heart after the break when a Harry Kewell shot was clearly blocked by Del Piero’s hands without a penalty awarded.
Heart though were not to be denied and had their reward shortly after.
Vedran Janjetovic made a hash of an attempted catch from Matthew Jurman’s clearance off the line, with Ramsay and Germano swamping him for the Argentine to strike home.
Heart had regained the ascendancy and dominated the match for the next 20 minutes, making the Sky Blues look like the team a man down.
While Williams’ free-kick on the edge of the box was saved with five minutes remaining, he outran and outsmarted two Sky Blues defenders in the dying minutes to steal victory.