Melbourne City and Perth Glory fought out a memorable 3-3 draw on Tuesday night but coaches John van' t Schip and Kenny Lowe both felt the match officials had a night to forget.
The fiery encounter was a thrilling display of attacking soccer played at a breakneck pace, but it was marred by some controversial decisions.
City were awarded three penalties by referee Shaun Evans, with striker Bruno Fornaroli only able to convert one thanks to a couple of stunning saves by Glory custodian Liam Reddy.
The second penalty save came deep in injury time with the score 3-3 after Dino Djulbic fouled Fernando Brandan off the ball.
Djulbic was initially sent off over the incident and a spot kick awarded but then the match was held up for several minutes as Evans consulted with the fourth official before showing Brandan a red card for instigating the clash.
Perth left back Marc Warren was responsible for the other two penalties after he twice brought down Bruce Kamau, whose pace proved a handful all night for Glory.
'I'm surprised ... the referee was very inconsistent,' van 't Schip said.
'I think it was after 16 minutes that (Warren) got a yellow and after that he had five or six more fouls that he made ... but didn't get a second yellow.
'I really don't understand why.
'It's very frustrating but it's something that we can't control, unfortunately.'
The controversial calls made by the Evans only added to a night of high drama at AAMI Park where 11,269 fans were treated to a late Christmas present.
City went ahead three times, Tim Cahill scored the first goal of the contest with a trademark header before Fornaroli deftly found the top corner in traffic then converted a penalty, only to be pegged back three times by the feisty visitors.
Diego Castro scored two goals for Glory in his return from a hamstring injury and Chris Harold beat City keeper Dean Bouzanis at his near post with a brilliant close-range shot in the 64th minute to end the scoring.
Glory coach Kenny Lowe was pleased to come away from the encounter with a point but couldn't understand why the injury-time penalty stood after Brandan was sent off for instigating the clash.
'If the Melbourne boy has fouled first then I don't see how it can be a penalty ... that was the information that we were receiving,' Lowe said.
'I don't know how the fourth official, who stood next to me, can actually tell the ref what went on in the box when he's only 15 metres away.'