Ten-man Australia keep qualification hopes alive

Ghana 1 Australia 1
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The Independent Online

Ten-man Australia kept their slim hopes of qualifying for the next round of the World Cup alive after a dogged second-half display earned them a point against Ghana in Rustenburg.

Harry Kewell was sent off for the Socceroos midway through the first half after referee Roberto Rosetti deemed he had used his arm to keep out a certain goal for Jonathan Mensah after 23 minutes.

Asamoah Gyan made no mistake with the resulting penalty to cancel out an earlier strike from Brett Holman at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium as the two sides went on to end the Group D encounter with a point each.

At the start Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac was forced into two changes in the key centre-back area, where Isaac Vorsah and John Mensah were ruled out, with Jonathan Mensah and Lee Addy drafted in instead.

There were changes from Pim Verbeek too - four in total with Holman, Marco Bresciano and Kewell amongst them - and it clearly made a difference from the outset.

Australia looked hungry and Kewell had an early penalty shout turned down after a nervous Addy was almost dispossessed in the box.

More suspect defending saw Addy and goalkeeper Richard Kingson collide after pressure from another chasing Australian, before the deadlock was broken.

Carl Valeri was brought down by Anthony Annan just outside the box and Bresciano's free-kick was fumbled by the Ghanaian goalkeeper allowing Holman to swoop.

The Black Stars slowly began to recover and came close after 20 minutes when Andre Ayew and then Gyan saw their shots deflected over.

Then came the turning point of the game - Ayew's trickery down the right allowing him to lay the ball on for Jonathan Mensah, whose shot was kept out by the hand of Kewell.

Referee Rosetti had no hesitation in sending off the forward and Gyan easily dispatched the penalty by sending Mark Schwarzer the wrong way.

The goal came in the 24th minute and moments later Prince Tagoe had a good chance to put his side in front, but dragged his long-range strike wide.

Schwarzer made a fine save moments before half time when he turned Boateng's strike wide to ensure his side head into the break level.

After the restart Kwadwo Asamoah wastefully shot wide after a promising counter-attack, while Gyan showed good accuracy from distance with a low shot that was not cleanly gathered by the Australia goalkeeper, who was fortunate not to have had any attacking players close by.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie replaced Tagoe in the 56th minute, but Ghana were still restricted to long-range shooting - Rennes striker Gyan again sending in a comfortable shot for Schwarzer to deal with.

Scott Chipperfield was brought on 10 minutes later and had a great chance to make an immediate impact when Luke Wilkshire swung over a cross from the right, but the free header went flying over.

When the Ghanaians did manage to get into the box, Gyan sliced wide after a neatly threaded pass from Boateng.

Verbeek's side had another great chance to take the lead after 73 minutes when Wilkshire was played in on the right, but Kingson did well to close down the shot and then acrobatically save the much easier rebound shot from substitute Joshua Kennedy.

Sulley Muntari was introduced but by then there was more defending to do for the Inter Milan midfielder with Australia throwing everything forward.

With time running out, Jonathan Mensah headed wide, while Quincy forced Schwarzer to punch over his 18-yard shot as the game finished 1-1.

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