Tim Cahill headed Melbourne City to a much-needed A-League win against 10-man Central Coast with a 2-1 victory at AAMI Park.
Cahill scored after just three minutes before Roy O'Donovan equalised -- but he was then sent off after just 23 minutes.
The Mariners were able to hold City at bay for the second half, ensuring another nervy finish for the title hopefuls.
The result was the perfect tonic for Michael Valkanis' men, desperately needing a response to last week's loss to last-placed Adelaide United.
Cahill netted his first from a set piece, running clear of two markers to finish at the near post.
Despite the speed in which City took the lead, it was already the second time Cahill had been left alone at set pieces -- a sign of the Mariners' defensive naivety.
But Paul Okon's men fought back, showing their attacking prowess to equalise on nine minutes. Nick Montgomery set Connor Pain free, and the ex-Melbourne Victory winger's cross found O'Donovan to net his ninth goal of the season with a first-time strike.
Then came O'Donovan's moment of madness when his raised arm on Michael Jakobsen caught the attention of the linesman.
Referee Daniel Elder conferred with his assistant and produced the red card, rightfully judging that O'Donovan's glances over his shoulder at Jakobsen provided the intent.
A man short, the Mariners pushed on but were vulnerable to City attacks.
After a number of unsuccessful City sorties, Cahill completed his brace on 39 minutes.
Osama Malik's header from a corner was cleared off the line, but only to Luke Brattan who returned the ball to the back post where Cahill pounced.
If there was a complaint over City's performance, it was that -- as has been the case so many times this season -- the killer goal never came.
Nicolas Colazo hit the post twice and substitute Fernando Brandan missed a free header from two metres out.
The shots' count at the end of the night read 26-2, with Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo's eight saves putting him second only to Cahill for impact on the match.