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Cahill gives Postecoglou winning start as Australia boss

Captain of the Australian soccer team Lucas Neill (R) walks with new team coach Ange Postecoglou to a media conference in Sydney November 18
Captain of the Australian soccer team Lucas Neill (R) walks with new team coach Ange Postecoglou to a media conference in Sydney November 18

By Dean Southern

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Ange Postecoglou enjoyed a winning start to his tenure as Australia head coach with Tim Cahill's second half header enough to see off Costa Rica 1-0 in a friendly between World Cup finalists on Tuesday.

The New York Red Bulls substitute rose highest to meet Tommy Oar's 69th minute corner from the left to leave the 20,165 fans at Allianz Stadium happy after a promising first display by the hosts under the new manager.

"Tonight was a good starting point," Postecoglou told reporters.

"We didn't obviously get the fluency tonight because we changed the system, and the manner in which we play but the intent was always there and the players tried to play football.

"We didn't take a backwards step tonight against a very good team. That was because our pressure, our commitment and our discipline was fantastic."

Postecoglou took the reins after German Holger Osieck was dismissed last month following the back-to-back 6-0 maulings by Brazil and France.

He made four changes to the Socceroos starting line-up that defeated Canada 3-0 in London under caretaker boss Aurelio Vidmar last month, bringing in Matthew Leckie and Robbie Kruse in attack, Matthew Ryan in goal and Ivan Franjic at right back.

Franjic saved Ryan's blushes with an alert clearance after a mix up over a header in the fifth minute, before Kruse set up Leckie for their best chance of the half, but the burly striker side-footed his 42nd minute shot over from close range.

A raft of second half substitutions opened the game up, with a mazy dribble by Tom Rogic almost providing an opening after Costa Rica's Kenny Cunningham missed a good chance for the visitors.

But Cahill was on hand to split the deadlock with a trademark header that struck the knee of the Costa Rican defender to leave the hosts celebrating.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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