Costa Rica Sports News – The Socceroos began a new era under Ange Postecoglou last night, but it was a familiar face who ensured the coach’s reign kicked off with a victory.
Cahill headed his way into the record books, equalling Damian Mori’s all-time Socceroos goal-scoring record of 29.
The Socceroos made a nervous start but looked a revived outfit, and after the game they were united in their praise for the managerial style of Postecoglou following three years under German Holger Osieck.
They largely delivered the attacking, possession-based game Postecoglou likes to play and didn’t allow the Costa Ricans to get into much rhythm. The world’s 31st-ranked side did not have a single shot on goal.
Clearly wanting to assess some of the younger players, Postecoglou started Dario Vidosic and Mathew Leckie up front while the likes of Josh Kennedy and Cahill sat on the bench.
And while the young duo showed promising signs in attack, veteran Cahill finally broke the deadlock in the 69th minute with another vintage moment of aerial power as he climbed high to head home, thanks in part to a deflection off a Costa Rican defender.
The Socceroos’ first chance came just before the break when Robbie Kruse, who was a thorn in Costa Rica’s side the entire game, set up Leckie perfectly.
Kruse sent the ball across the face of goal, only for the striker to skew his volley wide.
Crystal Palace skipper Mile Jedinak looked like scoring early in the second half after powering into the box, but he, too, missed under pressure from defenders.
In an effort to turn chances into goals, Postecoglou brought on Cahill and Tom Rogic in the second half, and the move paid off. Celtic playmaker Rogic, despite being fouled regularly, created space and looked dynamic, while Cahill was an instant threat.
The Socceroos defence, heavily criticised after recent 6-0 thumpings by Brazil and France, looked the most solid it has in a while.
Lucas Neill, who became Australia’s longest-serving captain by wearing the armband for a 61st time, marshalled well as he partnered with Rhys Williams in the centre of defence.
But Jason Davidson, who is being touted as a possible long-term solution at the problematic left-back spot, had a night to forget.
He almost put Australia a goal behind early in the match when he sent the Socceroos defence scrambling with a back-header over Mat Ryan’s head, only to be saved by Ivan Franjic, who cleared the ball off the line.
It was the only threat to Ryan’s goal.
Wellington Phoenix’s Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham came on as second-half substitutes for the Costa Ricans, who were largely left wanting in most aspects of the game.
Costa Rica qualified for next year’s World Cup after finishing second, behind the US and ahead of Honduras and Mexico, in the CONCACAF region.
By ANGELA HABASHY, .theherald.com.au/