Australia Holds on for 1-1 Draw Against Ghana

Ten-man Australia held on for a 1-1 draw with Ghana on Saturday at the World Cup.

Australia, which lost Harry Kewell to a straight red card in the 24th minute, took the lead in the 11th. Forward Brett Holman slotted in a rebound after Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson had saved a free kick from Mark Bresciano.

Kewell, who led Australia's attack, was sent off for blocking a shot from Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah on the line with his upper arm.

"It's devastating for me," Kewell said. "There was no intent. The referee has killed my World Cup."

Kewell said he watched the rest of the match in the dressing room with a security guard.

Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan converted the ensuing penalty in the 25th for his second goal -- and second penalty -- of the tournament.

Ghana nearly went ahead two minutes later when Prince Tagoe's close-range shot went just wide. Then, just before halftime, midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng made a run down the right and sent his shot toward the far post, but goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer tipped it behind for a corner.
Ghana, which now leads a tight Group D with four points, continually broke through Australia's defense and threatened to score, but couldn't finish.

Australia had started brightly as the players looked to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Germany. Coach Pim Verbeek was heavily criticized for fielding a defensive lineup in that match and failing to field a recognized striker.

Australia is last in the group with one point, but Verbeek still thinks there's a chance to advance after Wednesday's match against Serbia. Kewell will be suspended but Tim Cahill will be back from the ban he received for a red card in the opening game.

"We're still in the race," he said. "The boys were fighting for everything, and with everything they had. I can only be proud of the players."

Verbeek said he thought the players "reacted well to the loss against Germany."

The coach also said it shouldn't have been a sending off for Kewell, calling it a hard shot he couldn't move his arm away from.

"I think it was definitely not a red card," he said. "What can you do with your arm? You can't cut it off."

Kewell's red card against Ghana dulled Australia's dominance in the opening stages and unleashed wave after wave of attack by Ghana.

The Australians had looked the stronger team from the opening whistle until the red card. A penalty claim in the second minute involving Kewell was waved away by the referee.

But Ghana resumed the pressure in the second half.

Kwadwo Asamoah ran down the right in the 47th and sent a shot wide from inside the area. A shot from just outside the area by Gyan was spilled by Schwarzer three minutes later, but the 'keeper cleared it for a throw.

Gyan threatened again in the 60th, but his curling shot from the edge of the box went straight to Schwarzer.

In the 66th, Australia nearly scored when a cross was headed just over by substitute Scott Chipperfield. But seconds later, another Ghana attack almost resulted in a goal when a cross from the right was just missed by a sliding Gyan in front of goal.

Australia didn't give up and had two chances to score in the 72nd. Luke Wilkshire was put through on goal and shot straight at Kingson, and Joshua Kennedy then volleyed straight into the ground and into the keeper's arms.

Ghana, which faces Germany in its last group match Wednesday, pounded Australia's goal in the closing minutes. A header by Mensah went just wide in the 90th and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's long-range shot was tipped over in injury time by Schwarzer.

Ghana captain John Mensah and fellow defender Isaac Vorsah were left out because of injuries, and coach Milovan Rajevac said that was a factor in the opening goal.

"Instead of two defenders, we had to use two young players," Rajevac said. "We got off to a bad start, conceding a goal. After that, we started to fight.

"We shouldn't have given that goal away. It's very difficult to attack a team with a good defense."

Rajevac believes that a draw against Germany would be enough to advance to the next round.
But Australia captain Lucas Neill says his team can progress if Germany plays as well against Ghana as it did against Australia.

"We've seen enough to believe that Germany, if they played like they did against us, can give Ghana a real touch up," Neill said. "We still believe, and we're going to keep fighting to the end."