Glory land the first blow

Perth Glory gained their revenge, Besart Berisha left unscathed and everything was wrapped up in a neat little package.

In the end Patersons Stadium didn-t crumble under the weight of expectation.

Perth Glory gained their revenge, Besart Berisha left unscathed and everything was wrapped up in a neat little package.

So does that mean the end of the whole Glory-Roar penalty imbroglio? Not on your life.

For one thing Perth barely gained any revenge at all. They may have celebrated Billy Mehmet-s late winner in their 1-0 win over Brisbane but winning a grand final rematch in the opening round is hardly the same as winning a decider.

And while Berisha-s contribution amounted to little more than a wildly celebrated yellow card on the stroke of half-time, Brisbane-s lively display suggests they-re still a force to be reckoned with.

The gloves were off in Perth - though you suspect Travis Dodd probably packed his with his kit - but the Glory were leading on points when Mehmet delivered his knock-out blow.

They should have opened the scoring barely a quarter of an hour in but Kiwi international Shane Smeltz pushed the ball too far forward in his attempt to round on-rushing Roar custodian Michael Theo.

And with the crafty Liam Miller pulling the strings in midfield, Perth carved out chances in a much easier fashion than the Roar-s new coach Rado Vidosic would have liked.

Vidosic has of course taken over from the departed Ange Postecoglou and the Roar packed a punch of their own as some of the new man-s subtle changes gradually came to the fore.

Erik Paartalu flashed a header wide, Nick Fitzgerald stung the palms of Danny Vukovic and Ben Halloran struck the woodwork late on as Brisbane employed a more direct approach than in years gone by.

And though the Roar will leave the west disappointed they know one bitter pill to swallow hardly makes a season.

But they will have also learned that Perth should once again prove genuine title challengers.

So much is made of Thomas Broich-s playmaking abilities but in the vastly underrated Miller, Perth possess a creative schemer of their own.

Like all good playmakers Miller seems to have more time on the ball than most and if Smeltz can start converting a few more of the chances he creates, Glory should be potent in front of goal.

Match-winner Mehmet also proved his worth, angling a bullet header home where others might have fluffed their chance.

For all the talk of Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono lighting up the A-League with their undoubted creative skill, in Mehmet it was a no-nonsense import from a more humble background who proved decisive in the opening round.

Speaking of Del Piero, his performance on a slippery pitch in Wellington suggests the Italian great could prove highly influential this season - provided his teammates get up to speed with his train of thought.

Time seemed to stand still when the former Juventus legend was on the ball but sadly for Sydney FC fans that wasn-t the case for his team-mates, as Wellington pulled off an expertly executed home win against their more fancied opponents.

Interestingly none of Del Piero, Wanderers- import Shinji Ono or Newcastle Jets- marquee man Emile Heskey picked up three points over the weekend, reminding us that football is a team game after all.

And it-s a game being enjoyed by more fans than ever after the aggregate attendance record was broken on the back of five absorbing opening-round fixtures.

Melbourne threw down the gauntlet when more than 42,000 fans piled into Etihad Stadium for the derby, so now it-s Sydney-s time to respond when the Sky Blues host Newcastle in Del Piero-s home debut.

And Brisbane fans will be hoping their team can bounce back after a disappointing start, as Perth landed the first blow in what is shaping up to be a season-long slugfest between the two foes.

The views expressed in this article are purely those of the author and do not reflect those of FFA or the Hyundai A-League.