Wednesday 29 March 2017

Aussies battle to stay alive

Thahir Asmal in Rustenburg

Australia 1

Ghana 1



Ten-man Australia kept their slim hopes of qualifying for the next round alive after a dogged second-half display earned them a point against Ghana.

Harry Kewell was sent off for the Socceroos midway through the first half after referee Roberto Rosetti deemed he had used his arm to keep out a certain goal for Jonathan Mensah after 23 minutes.

Asamoah Gyan made no mistake with the resulting penalty to cancel out an earlier strike from Brett Holman at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium as the two sides went on to end the Group D encounter with a point each.

At the start Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac was forced into two changes in the key centre-back area, where Isaac Vorsah and John Mensah were ruled out, with Jonathan Mensah and Lee Addy drafted in instead.

There were changes from Pim Verbeek too -- four in total with Holman, Marco Bresciano and Kewell amongst them -- and it clearly made a difference from the outset.

Australia looked hungry and Kewell had an early penalty shout turned down after a nervous Addy was almost dispossessed in the box.

More suspect defending saw Addy and goalkeeper Richard Kingson collide after pressure from another chasing Australian, before the deadlock was broken.

Carl Valeri was brought down by Anthony Annan just outside the box and Bresciano's free-kick was fumbled by the goalkeeper allowing Holman to swoop.

The Black Stars slowly began to recover and came close after 20 minutes when Andre Ayew and then Gyan saw their shots deflected over.

Then came the turning point of the game after 24 minutes -- Ayew's trickery down the right allowing him to lay the ball on for Jonathan Mensah, whose shot was kept out by the hand of Kewell.

Referee Rosetti had no hesitation in sending off the forward and Gyan easily dispatched the penalty by sending Mark Schwarzer the wrong way.

Sunday Independent

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