Melbourne City hit six goals past Kerala Blasters to kick-start the LaLiga World tournament with a win on Tuesday.
It rained goals in front of a half-filled JLN Stadium in Kochi as Riley McGree (33' and 56'), Dario Vidosic (30'), Bruno Fornaroli (79'), Ramy Najjarine (75') and Lachlan Wales (50') all registered their names on the scoresheet.
David James kept his word and offered Dheeraj Singh his much-awaited debut in yellow colours. Blasters' 4-4-1-1 had Anas Edathodika and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic paired up in defence with Cyril Kali and Sandesh Jhingan acting as full-backs. New signings Halicharan Narzary and youngster Prasanth Karuthadathkuni flanked a central midfield pairing of Seiminlen Doungel and Keziron Kizito. New foreign recruits Slavisa Stojanovic and Matej Poplatnik headed the attack with the Serbian dropping deep regularly to aid the midfield.
The City Blues looked composed on the ball and made full use of the flanks to test the opposition's full-backs. The alarm bells rang for both sides in the first ten minutes with Cyril Kali heading over from a corner and Michael O Halloran skipping past Sandesh Jhingan only to have his shot parried away by the goalkeeper.
A clever assist and poor marking at the half-hour mark resulted in Melbourne City's first goal of the night. Nathaniel Atkinson skipped past the Blasters crowd in front of the box and pulled a pass back to Luke Brattan. The on-loan Manchester City midfielder lobbed the ball into the box where an unmarked Dario Vidosic sneaked a well-timed header into the bottom right corner of the net.
Riley McGree, known for the audacious scorpion-kick he scored last season in A-League, got on the scoresheet to double his side's lead in the 34th minute. Blasters' midfield left spaces for their counterparts to take advantage of. Anthony Caceres slid a pass past Poplatnik and into the path of the former Newcastle Jets midfielder who hit the net with a calm finish past Dheeraj Singh.
Melbourne City would have made it 3-0 if not for a very good save by Dheeraj to keep out a piledriver from O'Halloran's right foot in the first half.
Zakeer Mundampara, Hrishidath, Mohamed Rakip and Courage Pekuson were introduced by David James at half-time. The changes further forced the floodgates open as heavy rainfall poured into the JLN Stadium. O'Halloran, who had been a nuisance on the left flank throughout the first-half, took on Anas Edathodika and had his shot parried away by Dheeraj into the path of Lachlan Wales who made it 3-0.
A few minutes later, Riley McGree added Melbourne City's fourth with a neat finish from inside the box with his left foot.
Slavisa Stojanovic was handed an opportunity to score a consolation goal after Pekuson split the Blues defence with a through-ball but the forward could not find the pace to outrun his marker. The Australian club seemed to have more energy in the final quarter and they made full use of it by adding two more goals to the kitty.
There were high-fives all around as Pierias fed the ball forward to Metcalfe whose horizontal pass was directed into the goal by Ramy Najjarine. Bruno Fornaroli ran past his marker, breezed into the box and slotted past Dheeraj to make it 6-0.
Melbourne City will now face Girona FC on July 27 at the same venue. Blasters will play the La Liga side a day later.