EVERTON has kicked off their Australian tour in perfect fashion with a 1-0 win over defending A-League champions Sydney FC in front of over 40,000 fans at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
A goal to the Toffees' Nigerian striker Victor Anichebe in the first minute of the second half proved the difference in a match that was surprisingly high in intensity and quality for a pre-season friendly.
Socceroo superstar Tim Cahill started the match on the bench after his World Cup exploits and hardly got into the game for the English Premier League club when he came on in the second-half.
Sydney gave as good as they got throughout the 90 minutes and could easily have taken something from the match, wasting a number of good opportunities, particularly from striker Alex Brosque.
The Sky Blues also had a strong claim for a penalty 13 minutes from time when Everton defender Phil Jagielka appeared to clip Brosque in the box but referee Strebre Delovski waved away the home side's appeals.
It was Sydney that conjured the first chance of the night on five minutes when Brosque intercepted a wayward pass across the back by Leighton Baines.
Brosque turned with the ball and ran at the Everton defence but his shot from 25 metres out was straight at goalkeeper Iain Turner.
The Toffees manufactured their first chance a minute later when Leon Osman played a neat pass in behind the Sydney defence which the pacy James Vaughan got on the end of only to poke a tame shot into the arms of Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski.
While Everton were playing the first match after a long pre-season, Sydney were playing their fourth and as a result they looked sharper than the visitors in the first 20 minutes.
Sydney was finding some space in dangerous areas and both Brendan Gan and Sung-Hwan Byun had opportunities from just outside the box but failed to test Turner.
Young Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell, who scored a winning goal against Manchester United last season, was causing Sydney a few problems and could have opened the scoring midway through the half.
Rodwell found space down the left and ran at the Sydney defence, shifting the ball onto his left foot but his curling shot for the far corner was too high.
Sydney winger Scott Jamieson, an off-season signing from Adelaide United, was lively for the home side down the left and it was his cross that produced the best chance of the first half.
Everton defender Sylvain Distin won the header from Jamieson's cross but it only fell to Brosque inside the box, who swivelled and volleyed in one motion from 10 metres out but again it was straight at Turner.
The visitors started to lift their game after that and almost opened the scoring themselves 10 minutes before the break when Baines played a pass into Victor Anichebe in the box and the big Nigerian did well to hold off Stephan Keller before turning the big Swiss defender and getting off a shot which Necevski brilliantly saved with his feet.
Toffees manager David Moyes gave the healthy crowd of 40,446 what they wanted by bringing Cahill on at half-time for the largely ineffective Vaughan.
And while the Socceroo superstar wasn't directly involved his substitution had an immediate affect with Everton scoring inside the first minute of the second half.
Osman was given too much space down the left and he crossed to Anichebe who put a clever turn on Keller before shooting high into the net giving Necevski no chance.
Sydney was having some joy down the flanks and Gan's cross from the right almost brought about an equaliser but Brosque couldn't get enough power on his header and it rolled harmlessly wide.
After producing a solid display in his return to the Harbour City, inaugural Sydney FC skipper Dwight Yorke was substituted after an hour by young Japanese trialist Hirofuni Moriyasu.
The Sky Blues' best chances were continuing to fall to Brosque but he was having an off night in front of goal and he again blazed over from a good position 25 minutes from the end.
Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka gave a debut to youngster Terry Antonis and the 16-year-old showed some nice touches in the heart of the midfield.
Arteta should have doubled the lead 16 minutes from the end after a nice cut back from fullback Tony Hibbert but his shot was parried away by Necevski.
Both sides made a host of changes towards the end as the game began to fizzle out but Sydney almost snatched an equaliser through defender Sebastian Ryall but his header was wide of the goal.
Everton now head south to take on new A-League franchise Melbourne Heart on Wednesday.
Sydney FC 0
Everton 1 (Anichebe 46')
Sydney FC: 20 Ivan Necevski, 12 Shannon Cole, 3 Stephan Keller, 2 Sebastian Ryall, 22 Sung Hwan Byun, 15 Terry McFlynn, 19 Dwight Yorke (28 Hirofuni Moriyasu 62'), 7 Brendan Gan (17 Terry Antonis 67'), 9 Mark Bridge (29 Blake Powell 83'), 21 Scott Jamieson (26 Dimitri Petratos 86'), 14 Alex Brosque
Subs Not Used: 1. Liam Reddy, 5 Hayden Foxe, 13. Antony Golec
Everton: 12 Iain Turner, 2 Tony Hibbert, 3 Leighton Baines, 15 Sylvain Distin, 6 Phil Jagielka, 7 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (9 Jose Baxter 64'), 21. Leon Osman, 10 Mikel Arteta, 26 Jack Rodwell, 14 James Vaughan (17 Tim Cahill 46'), 28. Victor Anichebe (8. Louis Saha 71').
Subs Not Used: 31 Seamus Coleman, 11 Magaye Gueye, 16 Joao Silva, 25 Shkodran Mustafi, 23 Lukas Jutkiewicz