Sydney FC 0 Everton 1

Returning hero ... Tim Cahill breaks free.

Returning hero ... Tim Cahill breaks free. Photo: Anthony Johnson

TIM CAHILL made a triumphant return to Sydney last night before he even kicked a ball in anger for Everton.

The Socceroo, who was raised in a suburb only a few minutes drive from ANZ Stadium, walked onto the field ahead of his teammates after the half-time break with his arms raised in triumph to acknowledge the applause of the 40,000-strong crowd.

He hugged Sydney FC's favourite adopted son, Dwight Yorke, who made a welcome one-off return to the sky blue jumper. Less than a minute later, he watched as Victor Anichebe broke the 0-0 half-time deadlock.

Familiar face ... Dwight Yorke competes with Leon Osman for the ball.

Familiar face ... Dwight Yorke competes with Leon Osman for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

It was a cruel blow for a Sydney team that had been competitive in the opening half against an Everton team that finished eighth in last season's Premier League. None showed more flair and vigour than striker Alex Brosque, who made clear his intent in the fourth minute when he had a crack at goal.

Everton's keeper Iain Turner had the shot well covered, but the Sydney fans appreciated the fact that the champions of Australia's domestic league were keen to attack and weren't overawed by playing such a high-profile team.

Brosque, who could not break into Australia's World Cup squad despite being rated the most potent striker of last season's A-League, excelled against the Premier League outfit. He created plenty of opportunities and kept the English team guessing.

Another Sydney player to make the most of his opportunity was goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, who retained his composure under fire.

The match was as much about symbolism as it was providing Sydney football fans with an opportunity to watch Everton in action. Mark Bridge allowed Yorke to wear his No.19 jumper while Sydney's boom teenager Terry Antonis wore the same No.17 strip as Cahill.

The teenager, who, like Cahill, was raised in Sydney's south-west, received a tremendous welcome to the big time in the 67th minute. Already earmarked by critics as part of the future of Australian football Antonis received tremendous applause from the terraces - and his enthusiasm in chasing the ball was akin to a sheep dog herding up livestock.

The injection of Everton's star players, such as Cahill and French international Louis Saha, upped the tempo of the second half. Their footwork looked far more dangerous and they created more opportunities, though it was a tribute to Sydney's determination that they managed to foil Everton's numerous raids.

The most eye-catching item though was Everton's new away strip. Known throughout the football world as the Toffees, they resembled licorice all sorts last night, unveiling a hot-pink jersey, black shorts and an assortment of fluorescent boots.

Their first trial game of the season, which skipper Phil Neville - who didn't play - said was about gaining match fitness and winning was a success.

Sydney may have been defeated by they were far from disgraced.