Melbourne City maintained their perfect start to the A-League season with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Adelaide United on Saturday night at Coopers Stadium.
A first-half double by Ross McCormack helped City make it four from four and handed the Reds their first loss of the campaign.
The visitors made hard work of it and absorbed a mountain of pressure in the final half-hour, with Osama Malik given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
United were forced to field a depleted line-up after Johan Absalonsen joined Ersan Gulum, Vince Lia and Taylor Regan on the injured list.
Baba Diawara was also a late omission, while City enjoyed the luxury of leaving Tim Cahill, Marcelo Carrusca, Luke Brattan and Marcin Budzinski on the bench.
Despite the line-ups, the opening minutes proved an even contest, with neither side looking to have gained an advantage.
But the visitors broke the deadlock after Reds keeper Paul Izzo rushed off his line and carelessly clattered into Stefan Mauk in an aerial challenge.
City striker McCormack stepped up and made no mistake from the spot on 11 minutes.
The Scotsman doubled his side's lead five minutes later with a delightful free-kick from 20m.
McCormack expertly powered his shot over the Reds' wall, leaving Izzo no chance.
United defender Ben Warland had his side's best chance at 24 minutes when, after an Isaias set-piece, he shot on the turn, forcing a stunning fingertip save from Eugene Galekovic.
Mauk was next to go close for City on the end of a cross from Scott Jamieson but the header went just over.
At halftime, Warland had another opportunity from an Isaias free-kick but his header was just wide.
The Reds were dealt a lifeline on the hour when Malik picked up his second yellow card for leading with the arm on Nathan Konstandopoulos while challenging for a header.
United almost took advantage immediately when Ben Garuccio teed up Nikola Mileusnic but the winger shot wide from close range.
Iacopo La Rocca almost sealed the win on 73 minutes with a powerful header from a Luke Brattan corner but it thumped into the upright.
With United doing all the pressing, City could have killed off the Reds in the 80th minute when Nick Fitzgerald burst down the left before feeding Mauk, but his chip went just past the post.
Adelaide coach Marco Kurz was disappointed by another slow start and the Reds' inability to find the back of the net.
"The first 15 minutes are not good from our side," he said.
"I thought we came back in the game, we made a good possession game and, after halftime, the only mistake we made is we scored no goal."
City coach Warren Joyce was pleased with taking maximum points but felt a third goal before Osama Malik's send-off would have killed off the contest.
"We talked at halftime about making sure we scored the first goal after halftime - that was our main objective," he said.
"I thought we had a couple of reasonable opportunities towards the end of the first half that we frittered out that maybe we could've got another goal and really killed the game off."