Seeking to burnish their image after a disappointing 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the Australians tasted their first victory since exiting the tournament in South Africa in June. With the first half ending 2-1 - one of the Socceroos' goals was a penalty - Poland failed to capitalise on second-half dominance and numerical advantage after Australia's Brett Emerton was sent off.
The match in the southern city of Krakow was the two nation's first full international meeting though they had met at the 1992 Olympic Football Tournament in Barcelona. Poland won 6-1 in the semi-finals on that occasion and went on to take the silver medal.
Tuesday's match was Australia's second under new coach Holger Osieck, a German veteran appointed last month. Australia drew Switzerland 0-0 in a friendly on Saturday. Osieck was not formally in the job for their first post-FIFA World Cup match last month, a 2-0 defeat by Slovenia.
Brett Holman of Dutch club Alkmaar opened Tuesday's score in the 13th minute, latching onto a pass from Dinamo Moscow's Luke Wilkshire and firing the ball past Poland goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton. The inexperienced custodian, of Dutch side Roda Kerkrade, is relatively untested, winning only his third cap on Tuesday. Poland coach Franciszek Smuda otherwise stuck to the side which drew 1-1 on Saturday against fellow Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine.
Having missed out on FIFA World Cup qualification, Poland have not played a competitive match since October 2009. They will not do so until they kick off in the opening game of the European championships in Warsaw in June 2012 - like Ukraine, they are guaranteed a host's berth.
Poland fans have high hopes for Euro 2012, seeing it as a chance to revive the glory days. Poland won Olympic gold in 1972, came third in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, took Olympic silver in 1976, and were again third in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Smuda, brought on board after the flunked attempt to reach South Africa, has faced mounting pressure after a 6-0 thrashing by Spain in June and 3-0 by Cameroon last month.
Poland equalised against Australia in the 17th minute as Robert Lewandowski picked up a lateral pass from Sebastian Boenisch. The pair play for Germany's Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen, respectively. Polish-born and German-raised Boenisch, a member of the Germany side that won the 2009 European Under-21 championships, opted for the Poland last month and was capped for the first time against Ukraine.
The Socceroos edged ahead in the 25th minute after Michal Zewlakow brought down Richard Garcia in the box, earning a yellow card, with Wilkshire tucking away from the penalty spot.
Just seven minutes later, Jon McKain fouled Borussia Dortmund midfielder Kuba Blaszczykowski as he powered towards the Socceroos' goal. But Australia keeper Adam Federici, of England's Reading, easily saved Lewandowski's penalty.
In the second half, Poland battled hard to make up the deficit and dominated play. Blackburn Rovers' Emerton earned a yellow card in the 71st minute for holding Blaszczykowski. He remonstrated and the referee pulled out the red. With Australia a man down, Federici made eight last-ditch saves to keep their edge.