Rustenburg (South Africa): Ghana edged clear
at the top of World Cup Group D after an exciting 1-1 draw
with ten-man Australia at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium today.
The Ghanaians moved a point above Germany and Serbia
after fighting off a determined bid by the Australians, who
lost striker Harry Kewell to a red card in a sensational
first-half penalty incident.
The Australians, trying to rebuild their World Cup
campaign after a shattering 4-0 first-up loss to Germany, now
have the tough task of trying to beat Serbia on Wednesday and
hope Germany are beaten by Ghana to reach the knockout round.
The athletic Ghanaians hit back to cancel out Australia`s
11th-minute opener with striker Asamoah Gyan`s 25th-minute
penalty and both teams had chances at either end to win the
Kewell was red carded for handling on the line of Gyan`s
fierce goal-bound shot - the ball hitting his upper arm.
Italian referee Roberto Rosetti immediately pulled out
the red card as Kewell and his Australian teammates
remonstrated his decision.
Gyan sent Mark Schwarzer the wrong way with his penalty
attempt to level the game and leave Australia to play a man
down for the remainder of the match.
It was the second red card of the tournament for the
Australians, who had Tim Cahill sent off against Germany.
"We have to beat Serbia by three goals now. It will be
difficult but we are still in the race," said Australia coach
Gyan said he was happy his team recovered from a slow
start. "It was a slow first 15 minutes and they had a good
start, but we came back into it."
Australia got a lucky break early on when attacking
midfielder Brett Holman, replacing the suspended Cahill,
scored off Mark Bresciano`s free kick in the 11th minute.
Bresciano`s free kick cleared Ghana`s defensive wall and
the ball bounced awkwardly off goalkeeper Richard Kingson`s
chest into the path of Holman, who tucked away the rebound for
his third international goal.
Coach Pim Verbeek brought on Scott Chipperfield and Josh
Kennedy to go up front with 20 minutes left as Australia
searched for the winner.
The Australians took the game to Ghana and had a glorious
chance in the 72nd minute when both Luke Wilkshire and Kennedy
fired their shots at Kingson with a goal beckoning.
Ghana went into the match without skipper John Mensah,
who failed a late fitness test and was replaced by teenager
Jonathan Mensah, while centre-back partner Isaac Vorsah was
left out for Lee Addy.
Kewell and Mark Bresciano were among four changes in the