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FIFA World Cup: Ghana draw against 10-man Australia; setup a fabulous last round in Group D

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asamoah_gyan.jpgThe Black Stars from Ghana and the Socceroos from Australia dished out a third successive 1-1 draw at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg. It was an entertaining draw, however, as both sides were positive in their intent and looked to take the game to the opposition. The match was off to the perfect start for the Australians as they got an early lead from Brett Holman courtesy a goalkeeping error from Richard Kingson. The joy for the Aussies was short lived though as Harry Kewell got sent off later in the first half for handling the ball on the line. Then of the resultant penalty Asamoah Gyan sent Schwarzer the wrong way and brought the Ghanaians to parity.

The second half saw both teams going all out to bolster their qualification hopes. However, the umpteen chances had no finishing touch to cap the proceedings as the match ended as a draw. The Group D points table now ensures that all the four teams have a chance to make their way into the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup.

Ghana and Australia locked horns today in a FIFA World Cup Group D fixture at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. The match had a lot riding on it for both the teams; especially in view of the delicately poised Group D points table. Three teams - Ghana, Germany and Serbia - were perched on 3 points while Australia were yet to get off the mark. A win today for the Ghanaians could have propelled them to the top spot with a last 16 place all but theirs. Australia, on their part were not expected to be a thorn in the Ghanaian side when one considered their abysmal performance against Germany, where they got mauled 4-0.

The only change in the Ghanaian line up was in the centre of defence with Lee Addy and Jonathan Mensah in place of the injured duo of Isaac Vorsah and John Mensah. The Socceroos on the other hand made a slew of changes in their starting line up with David Carney (left back), Mark Bresciano (midfield), Harry Kewell (forward) and Brett Holman (striker) replacing Scott Chipperfield, Vince Grella, Tim Cahill and Richard Garcia. Tim Cahill's absence due to a straight red card in the match against Germany was a huge blow to the attacking facet of the Australians' game and one that could well have cost them the advantage against a resolute Ghanaian defence.

Australia started really brightly and had a penalty appeal turned down in the 2nd minute when Harry Kewell trundled down in the Ghana box under pressure from Lee Addy. The former Liverpool forward then created some confusion in the Ghanaian defence in the 8th minute when Kingson and Mensah didn't get their communication right. The Socceroos got the deserved lead in the 11th minute when AZ Alkmaar striker Brett Holman turned in a goal. Mark Bresciano's free kick from nearly 35 yards was appallingly spilled by keeper Richard Kingson (4th choice keeper for Premier League side Wigan Athletic) and Brett Holman displayed predatory skills to knock the ball into the back of the net. Incidentally the famous ‘Green-gate error' in England's match against the USA took place at this very venue!

The Australians however seemed to take their foot off the gas after taking the lead as Ghana saw more of the ball. They were punished for their complacency in grand fashion in the 25th minute. Harry Kewell got sent off for blocking a goal bound effort with his hand in the 25th minute and then Asamoah Gyan did the rest from the spot kick. It was a sudden flip in the fortunes of the match as Australia were now down to 10 men with more than an hour of play still left while the Ghanaians were gifted a chance to go for the win and significantly bolster their last 16 chances. The match from then on drifted to expected patterns with the Black Stars retaining the ball for the majority of the time period. A second goal beckoned the African side.

Some stubborn defending from the hurt Australians came in the way of Ghanaian ambitions. Mark Schwarzer saved the Socceroos further blushes in the 44th minute when he pulled out a top drawer save to divert Kevin-Prince Boateng's effort wide off goal. The two sides went into the interval on parity with loads to play for in the second half.

The resumption of play was marked by an ambitious 40 yard strike from Kwadwo Asamoah. It was a sweetly struck shot that drifted wide of Schwarzer's goal. Asamoah Gyan too gave Schwarzer a good test in the 50th minute with a right footed curler that the keeper had difficulty in holding on to, before skipper Lucas Neill cleared the spill into orbit. The African side were doing all the running and getting into decent positions but the final ball was always lacking. Gyan was again into the thick of things when he tested Schwarzer on the hour mark. The Fulham keeper was at his composed best as he dealt with everything coming his way.

Australia substituted Mark Bresciano with Scott Chipperfield and the veteran almost made an immediate impact in the 66th minute with a header just over the goal from a Luke Wilkshire cross. Then in the very next minute Gyan drilled in a low cross but Asamoah was inches away from converting the same. Gyan was in the midst of the action again as he shot wide off goal when played clean through by Boateng. It was all action in the 72nd minute when Australia missed a gilt edged chance to get the surprise lead. Chipperfield  missed a one on one against Kingson and then Luke Wilkshire missed the following offering as Ghana survived a big scare. The game was opening up with both teams going hammer and tongs at each other.

Australia were positive in their intent as a draw might have made their qualification chances a lot more difficult; especially with a goal difference that was the worst of the group. Ghana too were after the win as even though a draw would propel them to the top of the group, their last match against Germany didn't carry any guarantees of point. Mensah came close with a header in the 90th minute and then substitute Quincy Owusu-Abeyie hit one straight to Schwarzer with what was the last piece of notable action in the match.

The game ended as a scored draw with both sides left in suspense with respect to their qualification campaigns. The last round of fixtures (on Wednesday, 23rd June) beckons Group D with all four teams in with a chance to make their way to the last 16.

Teams:

Ghana: Kingson, Addy, Mensah, Sarpei, Pantsil, Boateng (Amoah 87'), Annan, Gyan, Asamoah (Muntari 77'), Ayew, Tagoe (Owusu-Abeyie 56')

Australia: Schwarzer, Moore, Neill, Carney, Wilkshire (Rukavytsya 84'), Bresciano (Chipperfield 66'), Valeri, Holman (Kennedy 68'), Culina, Emerton, Kewell

Ghana 1-1 Australia
Holman 11'
Gyan 25'

Check out the Points Table

Also Read:

Serbia 1 - 0 Germany - Match Report

Photo by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa

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