Soccer: Socceroos need win after tough match

The Socceroos need a win in their last match and favours from others after a gutsy 1-1 draw with 10 men against Ghana left their World Cup on a knife-edge.

Harry Kewell's sending-off for a handball after 25 minutes left Australia playing a man down for most of the match and changed the momentum of the game.

But in a courageous effort, the Socceroos kept fighting, defended bravely, and nearly pinched a victory against the odds.

Instead Australia must now beat Serbia in their final Group D match in Nelspruit on Thursday and hope for the result in the Ghana-Germany match to go their way.

If the Socceroos win, victory for Ghana over the Germans may be enough to give Australia second in the group and qualification for the next stage.

They could also get there if they beat Serbia, and Germany hammer Ghana by enough goals so Australia can make up their goal difference.

With four changes to the starting line-up beaten by Germany including Kewell and reverting to their customary 4-2-3-1 formation, the Socceroos took a surprise 1-0 lead through a Brett Holman goal in the 11th minute.

But the game changed when Kewell was marched for handball.

The striker blocked a goalbound Jonathan Mensah shot in the goalmouth with his upper arm, and Italian referee Roberto Rosetti had no hesitation in brandishing red.

As a livid Kewell left the field, striker Asamoah Gyan slotted home the penalty to equalise and give Ghana a chance to exploit a 10-man Australia for the rest of the match.

Kewell wasn't the only person livid with the decision. Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek questioned the call, saying it was impossible for Kewell to get out of the ball's way.

"It was a mistake," Verbeek said of the red card. "What is he supposed to do, cut his arm off?"

But Verbeek paid tribute to the effort of his team. "I am very pleased with my players and their spirit today," he said. "They have spoken about the Australian spirit, and it was good that they were doing what they are talking [about]."

The Socceroos looked far more likely to pinch a winner in the second half.

Their best chance was after 72 minutes when Luke Wilkshire was put through on goal, but goalkeeper Richard Kingson jutted out a knee to clear his shot away.

Four minutes earlier, Holman had put a header over the bar.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was forced into two good second half saves, while Gyan shot wide on 71 minutes with possibly Ghana's best chance.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 31 Aug 2014 06:15:35 Processing Time: 691ms