A battling performance by the ten men of Australia rescued a draw against Ghana that keeps alive their dream of reaching the knockout stages, despite having to play with ten men for nearly an hour after Harry Kewell’s sending off.
Australia had taken the lead through Brett Holman when after 25 minutes Harry Kewell blocked a shot on the Australian goal line and the referee pointed to the spot. Replays showed that there had definitely been contact, that a goalscoring opportunity had been prevented and as such Kewell had to go. The referee brandished his red card at the Galatasaray winger, Asamoah Gyan struck his second penalty of the tournament to bring Ghana level, and Australia had to play the best part of an hour with ten men.
That they held on is testament not only to the hard work, discipline and team spirit instilled in Australia by coach Pim Verbeek but also a lack of guile on Ghana’s part. They seemed a little unsure of themselves and failed to make their extra man count until towards the end of the game when they started to press.
Australia were able to keep Ghana at arm’s length, playing in front of them, restricted to shots from distance. Ghana are still the only African side to win a match at this World Cup but they rarely looked likely to here. In the immediate aftermath of Kewell’s sending off they did well, using the full width of the pitch and creating a few chances, the best of which saw Mark Schwarzer tipping Kevin-Prince Boateng’s shot round the post.
But as the game wore on they ran out of ideas until the final minutes. Schwarzer was on fine form again as he clawed away Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s drive, and John Mensah headed just over from a Muntari cross.
Ghana can still qualify with a draw in their final game against Germany. Australia will also go through if they beat Serbia, and though they will have to do so without Kewell they will welcome the return of talisman Tim Cahill, suspended for this game by the red card he picked up in the 4-0 reverse to Germany.