World Cup

Australia 1, Ghana 1

Australia Loses Striker but Hangs On for a Tie

Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

Harry Kewell of Australia, left, blocked a shot by Jonathan Mensah with his arm on Saturday. More Photos »

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RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — Australia did not wilt after an early ejection of one of its veterans.

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Paul Buck/European Pressphoto Agency

Despite Kewell’s protests, the referee Roberto Rosetti, right, gave him a red card. More Photos »

The Socceroos held on for a 1-1 draw despite Ghana’s man advantage for more than 66 minutes in the World Cup on Saturday, further tightening Group D.

Australia forward Brett Holman scored in the 11th minute after goalkeeper Richard Kingson bobbled a free kick from Mark Bresciano right into his path.

Harry Kewell led the Australian attack against Ghana as one of four changes to the team shut out by Germany on Sunday night. But he was given a red card in the 24th minute after he blocked a shot from Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah at the goal line with his upper arm.

“It’s devastating for me,” Kewell said. “There was no intent. The referee has killed my World Cup.” He had to watch the rest of the match in the dressing room with a security guard, Kewell said.

Asamoah Gyan converted the penalty kick in the 25th minute for his second goal of the tournament, both from the penalty spot.

Australia’s coach, Pim Verbeek, said Kewell should not have been sent off, calling it a hard shot that he could not move his arm away from.

“I think it was definitely not a red card,” he said. “What can you do with your arm? You can’t cut it off.”

Ghana nearly went ahead two minutes later when Prince Tagoe’s close-range shot carried just wide, and again just before halftime. Kevin-Prince Boateng made a speedy run down the right wing and fired his shot toward the far post, but the Australian goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer, made a magnificent diving save.

Ghana tops Group D with 4 points, followed by Serbia and Germany with 3 each, and Australia with 1. Ghana plays Germany on Wednesday.

Ghana’s captain, defender John Mensah, and Isaac Vorsah, also a defender, were out because of injuries, and Coach Milovan Rajevac said that had been a factor in the opening goal.

“Instead of two defenders we had to use two young players,” Rajevac said. “We got off to a bad start, conceding a goal. After that, we started to fight.

“We shouldn’t have given that goal away. It’s very difficult to attack a team with a good defense.”

Verbeek said he still thought that there was a chance Australia would 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.”

The Black Stars continually broke through Australia’s defense and threatened to score, but could not finish. The 10-man Australian team also attacked and came close to a winner several times.

Australia got off to a fast start as it looked to rebound from the 4-0 defeat to Germany. Verbeek was heavily criticized for fielding a defensive lineup in that match and not going with a recognized striker.

So Kewell’s red card against Ghana was a difficult blow because it dulled Australia’s dominance in the opening stages.

In the second half, Australia nearly scored when a cross was headed just over the net by the substitute Scott Chipperfield, who had just come on. Seconds 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.

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