Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet described yesterday's 1-0 win over A-League champions Brisbane Roar as "payback" for last season's controversial grand final defeat.
While Glory coach Ian Ferguson played down the revenge factor, Mehmet, who secured victory with a soaring header in the 89th minute, revealed his deep satisfaction at having inflicted an early wound against the WA side's nemesis.
"To get the winning goal on the opening day of the season is brilliant but obviously the main thing was to get the three points and to get a little bit of payback, which I'm sure we've done now," he said.
"After the disappointment of last year, to go and get the three points in the first game of the season was brilliant for us."
Mehmet had been left on the bench after Ferguson opted to play Steven McGarry behind main striker Shane Smeltz.
But it took the substitute just four minutes to leave a lasting impression when he rose between defenders Matt Smith and Matthew Jurman to steer Scott Jamieson's fine cross from the left into the net.
With Smeltz committed to international duties with New Zealand next week, Ferguson will elevate Mehmet to the starting line-up in Sunday's match away to Central Coast Mariners.
Much of the build-up to yesterday's game centred on Roar striker Besart Berisha, who controversially won and converted the winning penalty in last season's grand final.
While Ferguson was thoroughly satisfied with yesterday's victory, he claimed Glory were still some way from enacting revenge.
"People will talk about revenge but it's revenge when you've got the cup in your hand. This was for three points today," he said.
The win was lapped up by the majority of the 14,085 fans at Patersons Stadium, some of whom had unfurled derogatory banners directed at Berisha.
On the field, Smeltz had an early appeal for a penalty turned down then was unable to make the most of a sloppy Erik Paartalu back pass before the game had its first flashpoint.Predictably, Berisha was at the heart of it, his tumble after a tackle from Jacob Burns prompting a head to head between Liam Miller and Roar's Mitch Nichols.Berisha eventually made his way into referee Ben Williams' book after a tussle with Glory defender Dean Heffernan in first-half stoppage time.Danny Vukovic prevented Nick Fitzgerald from opening the scoring just before half-time and the Glory goalkeeper denied Thomas Broich after the break.Then just when it seemed the points would be shared, Jamieson, who had played despite feeling sick before the match, whipped in a cross and Mehmet headed home.There was still time for Roar to threaten an equaliser but after Ben Halloran's shot crashed against the crossbar, Donghyun Do was booked for simulation.