Advance Australia Fair? It had seemed briefly possible when Ghana's goalkeeper Richard Kingson of Wigan Athletic had a Robert Green moment in the same goal here to gift the Socceroos the lead. Then Harry Kewell, as ever a controversy waiting to happen, was deemed to have handled on the line and received a red card, Asamoah Gyan scoring his second successive penalty to equalise.
For the remaining 65 minutes, however, the Black Stars failed to make the most of their numerical advantage, not least because they insisted on shooting at Mark Schwarzer from unrealistic distances. Ten Australians were a match for them, missing the two best chances of the second half, and although bottom of Group D with a single point, they retain a slim chance of going through to the knockout round by beating Serbia on Wednesday and willing Ghana to defeat Germany. The more likely outcome has to be Germany winning and topping the group from Serbia, one of whom England will be hoping to meet.
The loss of Ghana's captain, John Mensah of Sunderland, and his defensive partner Isaac Vorsah, caused Ghana some uncertainty at the back. Lee Addy, one of the replacements, had already collided with his goalkeeper before Kingson fumbled a free-kick by Marco Bresciano that bounced in front of him and reared up. Brett Holman of AZ Alkmaar followed up to score.
Gyan, who scored the winning goal to beat Serbia, was a powerful attacker again and had his chance in controversial fashion. Andre Ayew did superbly along the byline to set up Jonathan Mensah, whose shot hit Kewell on the upper arm. The Italian referee pointed to the penalty spot, then produced a red card and declined Kewell's invitation to study a replay of the incident. After the former Leeds man had reluctantly departed, Gyan stepped up to score confidently.
The Australian coach Pim Verbeek did not believe Kewell had deliberately handled the ball, asking: "What can you do with your arm, cut it off?" He was delighted with his team's spirit and was entitled to a sense of injustice that for the second time in two matches his lone striker had been sent off. Fortunately Tim Cahill, dismissed in the 4-0 defeat by Germany, was banned for only one game and will return against Serbia.
Ghana's coach Milovan Rajevac blamed the unloved Jabulani ball for Australia's goal. As he concluded about Group D: "Everything is possible."
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (It)
Man of the match: Gyan
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content