SYDNEY (AP) — Spanish star David Villa scored on his debut in the A-League to help Melbourne City draw with glamor club Sydney FC 1-1 on Saturday.
Villa, who has joined City on a 10-match loan, shrugged off a four-month break to score the equalizer after taking the field as a second-half substitute.
Corey Gameiro gave Sydney the lead in the 54th minute but Villa, Spain's leading goalscorer, leveled nine minutes later with a classy touch.
Massimo Murdocca sent Damien Duff free on the right, and the Irishman turned the ball back to the top of the box where Villa beat a defender and buried the ball in the corner of the net.
Villa arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday after playing his most recent match against Australia at the World Cup in June.
He took the field in the 48th and played for only 15 minutes when he scored in front of a crowd of 25,000 at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
City coach John van't Schip said he wasn't prepared to play Villa for more than half a match at this stage because "the risk of injury is too high."
"We all know that normally, if he's fit he's a player you put in the lineup," van't Schip said. "But because of his period of inactiveness in playing games, you have to build that up, and that counts even for one of the world's best finishers.
"He has to get more playing rhythm, training with us and today, with 45 minutes playing and a goal, next week will be a different story. He can have a good week of training and we'll make a well thought out decision again next week."
Sydney coach Graham Arnold praised the effort of his team which was weakened by the absences of Mark Janko, Bernie Ibini, Ali Abbas and Shane Smeltz.
Arnold said the Sydney effort was good "when you're playing against the richest club in the country and playing against a world-class superstar like (Villa)."
"John van't Schip is building a good side there."
Brisbane started its title defense with a 2-1 loss to Adelaide United, finishing with 10 men after Matt McKay was sent off in the 72nd minute. McKay was shown a yellow card, then a straight red for disputing a decision made by referee Ben Williams.
The Melbourne Victory made an emphatic start to its season with a 4-1 win over last year's finalist, Western Sydney Wanderers, who recently qualified for the Asian Champions League final.
The Victory led 3-0 after 30 minutes and went on to post its first opening-round win since 2006.
Glen Trifiro scored in the second minute of injury time as Central Coast beat Newcastle 1-0 and Perth beat Wellington 2-1.