Trying to rebound after four straight losses, including a 6-0 defeat by France which spelled the end of Holger Osieck’s term as coach, Australia showed plenty of determination and was always the better side, but laboured at times to beat lowly opposition.
Caretaker coach Aurelio Vidmar told Fox Sports he took a lot of pride in the team’s performance.
“We were really looking for a strong performance … we asked for the passion, that’s what we got so that’s good,” he said.
Asked if the win restored pride in the Socceroos after a difficult period, Vidmar said: “(It does) a little bit, there’s a long way to go.”
Vidmar said he would not be discussing whether he was interested in the Socceroos’ coaching vacancy. FFA boss Frank Lowy has made clear that the next national team coach would be Australian.
Canada, ranked just 106th in the world, had a number of scoring chances in the first half, but were stopped by a combination of poor finishing and good work from Australian goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak.
Australia took the lead after just 26 seconds, as a Marco Bresciano cross from the right was met by a perfectly timed header from Josh Kennedy for his 17th international goal.
Bresciano had a second goal ruled out for offside minutes later, but Australia was lucky to remain in front, with a couple of David Edgar crosses causing big problems in the Socceroos defence.
In particular, striker Tosaint Ricketts produced two great saves from Langerak, with a point-blank save in the sixth minute, followed by a tip over the bar from a header in the 29th minute, where Lucas Neill and the Australian defence were caught cold.
Caretaker manager Aurelio Vidmar took Langerak off at half-time to give Mat Ryan a chance to show his wares.
Australia was much stronger in the second half. The Socceroos doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, as Rhys Williams set up Dario Vidosic for a flick in from close range, although there were strong hints of offside.
Matt McKay went close with an excellent volley in the 72nd minute, before Matthew Leckie scored his first international goal with a good header seven minutes later.
Canada – which has now failed to score in eight full games – offered almost no opposition as the second half wore on.
Neill said he was pleased and proud of the Socceroos’ effort.
“It’s been a tough couple of games, the result today has been excellent to get together,” he said.
“As always we lose together, we win together. I’m very proud of the boys.”
Neill said his comments from earlier in the week, where he questioned the desire of younger players trying to play for the Socceroos, had been taken out of context.
“We needed spirit, we found it tonight,” he said.
“I just wanted to call for players to respond, it wasn’t trying to split old and young (players).”