Defending champion Brisbane continued where it left off last season in Australian football's A-League, extending its unbeaten streak to 29 matches and upstaging a higher-profile season opener involving returning overseas stars.

The Roar beat the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 in a reprise of last year's grand final.

Former Leeds and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell's return to Australia with the Melbourne Victory and ex-Blackburn Rovers stalwart Brett Emerton's first start with Sydney resulted in a scoreless draw between the teams in Melbourne.

In another match Saturday on the opening day of the 2011-12 season, Newcastle got a last-gasp winner to edge Melbourne Heart 3-2.

Mitch Nichols' 72nd-minute goal gave Brisbane the win in a match which saw a host of new faces for the defending champions. After losing captain Matt McKay and strike partners Jean-Carlos Solorzarno and Kosta Barbarouses - who combined to score 23 goals last season - the Roar signed three new internationals: Albania striker Besart Berisha, Bahrain defender Sayed Mohamed Adnan and Canadian international Issey Nakajima-Farran.

Before the match, Brisbane coach Ange Postecoglou helped introduce officials from the Bakrie Group of Indonesia as the Roar's new majority owners.

''That sets the foundation for us to keep improving this year - that's our benchmark and not a bad place to start from,'' Postecoglou said. ''Right from the first minute we played our football.''

In Melbourne, veteran goalkeeper Ante Covic outshone Kewell and Emerton to help the Victory fight out the scoreless draw against Sydney before 40,351 spectators. Sydney played the last 15 minutes with 10 men after the sending off of Mark Bridge.

Covic, signed by the Victory four days before the match after their No. 1 'keeper Tando Velaphi was sidelined with a broken leg, saved an Emerton first-half penalty and produced several other strong saves. Sydney counterpart Liam Reddy saved Kewell's headed shot with a reflex save close to halftime.

Emerton said he was disappointed with his individual performance but thought the match was of a high standard.

''The boys can be very proud of what they did out there tonight, they played very well and it was an entertaining game for a nil-all draw,'' Emerton said. ''I don't think the fans could ask for much more.''

Newcastle's off-field problems failed to affect its first match. Last week, coach Branko Culina and his son, player Jason, were both sacked by the Jets.

South Korean left back Byun Sung-hwan scored the winner in the third minute of stoppage time for the Jets.

''Because we had some dramas during the week, it made it even more important that we just focused on the football,'' said caretaker coach Craig Deans.

Jason Culina, who joined the Jets in February from the Gold Coast, had his contract ended without explanation, although the 31-year-old wasn't fit to play after having two offseason knee operations.

The Gold Coast played Wellington and Perth took on Adelaide on Sunday to conclude the first round.