Shorthanded Australia draws Ghana
Socceroos play 66 minutes short-handed but hang on anyway
Ten-man Australia held on for a 1-1 draw with Ghana on Saturday at the FIFA 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.
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.
The, just before halftime, forward Kevin-Prince Boateng made a run down the right and sent his shot toward the far post, but Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer tipped the shot behind for a corner.
Ghana, which now leads Group D with four points, continually broke through Australia's defence and threatened to score, but couldn't finish.
Earlier, Australia got off to a bright start, with the players looking to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Germany. Coach Pim Verbeek was heavily criticized for fielding a defensive lineup in that match and for 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.
"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."
He said he didn't see Kewell's hand ball, but was told by his players that it didn't look intentional.
"There's nothing we can do about it," he said. "We go on."
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 far better team from the opening whistle up until the red card. A penalty claim in the second minute involving Kewell was waved away by the referee.
But Ghana resumed its pressure on Australia in the second half, with 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 bobbled by Schwarzer three minutes later, but the Australian cleared it for a throw-in.
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 second 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, however, didn't give up and in the 72nd had two chances to score, first when Luke Wilkshire was put through on goal and shot straight at Kingson. 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 dying minutes. A header by Mensah went just wide from a cross by Sulley Muntari in the 90th.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's long-range shot was tipped over in injury time by Schwarzer.