Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren has continued his remarkable goalscoring streak in the final match before the World Cup opener against France, as high-flying Melbourne City edged a hard-fought 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets.
Maclaren bagged the winner early in the second half for an eighth goal in six matches. He has scored in every one of City's A-League Men matches this season.
National coach Graham Arnold would have breathed a sigh of relief after Maclaren and fellow Socceroo Mathew Leckie came out largely unscathed from an at-times spiky encounter.
Both had brief scares, with Maclaren jumping to his feet despite being steamrolled by Jets goalkeeper Michael Weier.
Leckie, who was named player of the match, came in for some heavy treatment, notably from Brandon O'Neill, who was cautioned after raking his studs across the attacker's shins.
"I got a bit battered and bruised with a couple of knocks so will get some ice on those," Leckie said post-match.
"We are heading off tomorrow night to Qatar, hopefully I head out injury-free and ready to go."
The pair will not miss any league action for the leaders, with the competition taking a four-week break during the World Cup.
Maclaren slotted home the winner from close-range on 57 minutes after Marco Tilio, who was also in contention for World Cup selection, superbly teed up the opportunity with a low cross.
"People see his goals, but with Jamie we see his positioning, his timing of a run or a pass, so he is a goalscorer," City coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.
"Jamie is in great form and we wish he and Mat, and all the Socceroos, the best for the World Cup."
Maclaren's winner ensured City achieved their best start to a season, with five wins and a draw.
But the league champions found the Jets a tough proposition on their own turf.
Newcastle bounced back from two crushing away defeats to push the A-League powerhouse to the very end.
The undefeated City rode their luck in an action-packed second half with goalkeeper Tom Glover kept busy, while Aiden O'Neill was dismissed with 15 minutes remaining for a second caution.
It was a third red card this season for City.
"Our team showed great fight and resilience, it is a hard place to come and get a result," Kisnorbo said.
Jets coach Arthur Papas made three changes to the side which crashed to a 4-0 defeat at Melbourne Victory last week.
Newcastle bounced back from a disastrous start - when keeper Michael Weier completely hashed a clearance to allow City's Richard van der Venne to open the scoring - with Trent Buhagiar forcing Scott Jamieson to turn the ball into his own net and level the scores.
The Jets custodian redeemed himself after the break, most notably when tipping Tilio's effort onto the crossbar.
"It was our best performance of the season so far with really good intent, but (I'm) disappointed not to come away with anything," Papas said.