Ghana missed a good chance to all but confirm their place in the last 16 after failing to break down a determined Australian side that, for the second match running, finished with 10 men.
The 1-1 draw in Rustenberg now leaves the Black Stars in need of a draw or win when they play Germany at Johannesburg’s Soccer City on Wednesday. For Australia the task is far tougher – and not entirely in their own hands – though they will take solace from a performance that was much improved on their shambolic display against Germany in their opening game.
The Socceroos took the lead after 11 minutes through Brett Holman, although it owed much to a goalkeeping error by Richard Kingson. The Ghanaian stopper should have held Marco Bresciano’s free-kick, but the ball bounced off his chest, falling invitingly for Holman.
Ghana found a way back into the match 14 minutes later. Anthony Annan’s shot would have burst the back of the net, but the ball struck Harry Kewell on his right arm. The Australian forward denied it was deliberate, but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti disagreed, awarding a penalty and showing Kewell the red card. Asamoah Gyan, who had scored from the penalty spot against Serbia, confidently slotted it home again.
Despite the one man advantage, the Black Stars – so lively and inventive in their 1-0 victory over Serbia – were oddly passive. Instead it was Australia, who defended in numbers and occasionally launched swift counter attacks, that looked more likely to score a winner.
Scott Chipperfield headed over when he would have been expected to hit the target and Kingson did well to block Luke Wilshire’s shot after Lee Addy had given the ball away on the edge of his own area.
As the second half progressed Ghana became more adventurous, but their attacks still tended to break down outside the area. Frustrated, the African side resorted to ever more ambitious long range efforts although it wasn’t until stoppage time before a shot from Quincy Owusu-Abeiye seriously tested Mark Schwarzer in the Australian goal.
Ghana’s coach, Milovan Rajevac, brought on Inter Milan’s Suller Muntari for the final 20 minutes, but the African Nations finalists still lacked a spark of creativity in midfield. The Black Stars have been Africa’s most impressive side so far in this tournament, but they will need their best performance yet next Wednesday if they are to ensure a place in the second round.
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