Melbourne City have improvised their way to another A-League win, beating battlers Brisbane Roar 1-0.
In the absence of sidelined striker Bruno Fornaroli, marquee full-back Ritchie de Laet led the line for City at AAMI Park, scoring the only goal of the game.
De Laet trashed marker Jack Hingert and swept in Rostyn Griffiths' centre on 52 minutes to give Warren Joyce's side their third straight win in 2019.
Joyce saluted the marquee Belgian, who he managed in Manchester United's reserve team.
"He scored hat-tricks to win leagues. It's not a position he's never played before," Joyce said.
"Four weeks ago he was diagnosed he was going to be out for two months. He was told to rest. He didn't choose to rest.
"He chose to play and actually, he's showed a great act of unselfishness."
The triumph lifts City to 23 points, equal with Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.
While they're still a way behind pacesetters Perth Glory, on 29 points, the run has City well-placed to raise their sights through the back half of the season.
Should a replacement for Fornaroli arrive in the transfer window, they might be able to avoid another long wait for an opener.
City took 11 shots to Roar's one in a pulsating first half characterised by poor finishing.
De Laet and fellow forward Lachie Wales were busy but failed to work Jamie Young, whose goal was threatened most by recalled midfielder Rostyn Griffiths.
The towering 30-year-old put his head on a string of crosses before leathering a long-range effort at Young, who saved one-handed.
Brisbane had the ball in the back of the net through an Adam Taggart breakaway, but were incensed when the marginal call wasn't reviewed.
Stand-in coach Darren Davies said it was a turning point.
"That incident changes the course of the game ... if it's nip and tuck you've got to let the benefit of the doubt go to the attacker and then if the goal is scored it comes back to the VAR," he said.
"I'm bitterly disappointed we didn't get a result."
After half-time, Wales drew an incredible fingertip save from Young after the break and City found their goal a minute later.
City lost momentum after the substitution of Luke Brattan as Brisbane chased an equaliser.
Substitute Dario Vidosic nearly gave them a helping hand with a nightmare clearance which Nick D'Agostino volleyed straight at Eugene Galekovic.
City held firm with the kind of resolve that has come to be synonymous with Joyce's tenure, though no doubt all would like to see some new firepower arrive soon.
City young gun Riley McGree was an early substitution after a knee knock with Hingert but club officials said he had not sustained a major injury.
Australian Associated Press