Socceroos draw with Ghana
An unfortunate clash between Mark Schwarzer and Patrick Kisnorbo has handed Ghana a 1-1 draw in an entertaining match against the Socceroos at Loftus Road in London. John Aloisi scored Australia's goal.
An unfortunate clash between Mark Schwarzer and Patrick Kisnorbo has handed Ghana a 1-1 draw in an entertaining match against the Socceroos at Loftus Road in London.
John Aloisi-s penalty had put Australia deservedly in front at half-time, but as Schwarzer went down having taken a low cross, the ball hit Kisnorbo in the head, bobbled free and Nottingham Forest-s Ghanaian striker Junior Agogo tapped home.
Australia though put in a terrific performance against the highly-rated Ghana team and but for the heroics of its goalkeeper Richard Kingston, the Socceroos would have won the match.
The only downside from the match was the foot injury to captain Vince Grella, who went off early in the second half, which for a while unsettled the Australian midfield.
Australian went out with an attacking line-up, playing John Aloisi up front with Marco Bresciano and Mile Sterjovski in advanced roles alongside him. And it only took a minute for Sterjovski to test Kingston, who had to dive full stretch to keep out the FC Basel strikers shot from going into the top corner.
It was to the first of many saves Kingston would make in the first half, as he single-handedly thwarted Australia-s attacking raids.
The 13th minute proved unlucky for Australia, with Kingston denying Jason Culina twice, while Aloisi was just inches away from opening the scoring from Sterjovski-s low cross to the near post.
The inevitable goal eventually came, when Aloisi did well to bully his way into the box and was chopped down from behind by Francis Dickoh near the by-line and referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation awarding a penalty.
Aloisi, as he did almost a year to the day against Uruguay, made no mistake from the penalty spot and in the process became Australia-s second highest goalscorer of all-time.
Luke Wilkshire should have made it 2-0 in the 31st minute, when he had a free header from eight yards, but directed it straight at Kingston.
Schwarzer didn-t make his first meaningful save until the 34th minute, going low to his left to save a Michael Essien shot.
Kingston though was the busier of the two keepers and in the 37th minute pulled off a world class save to deny Craig Moore, whose bullet header had goal written all over it until Kingston-s stunning intervention at full stretch.
Appiah had a golden chance to equalise for Ghana just before the break, but skewed his shot across the face and Australia deservedly was ahead at the break. Arnold made his first substitution at the break with Michael Thwaite coming on for Craig Moore and Ghana looked more intent after half time, although on several occasions the Socceroos looked dangerous on the break.
However Australia-s midfield dominance was soon to be unsettled with Grella forced off in the 53rd minute, after a knock to his foot.
Two minutes later, Emerton-s quick reaction saw Kingston produce another flying save and that was soon followed with another to stop a Culina low drive. That though was to be the last of the action for Kingston, who was given a standing ovation from the field.
Ghana upped the ante, with Essien forcing another save from Schwarzer down low and Muntari shooting wide shortly after.
With play going from end to end, Ghana got their equalizer in rather fortunate circumstances, when a dangerous looking cross from substitute Gyan, looked to be comfortably held by Schwarzer. But as he came down, the ball hit the head of a prone Kisnorbo on the ground and the ball spilled out of the keeper-s hands and it was an easy finish for Agogo.
Rather then sit back, Australia tried to hit back quickly, with substitute Brett Holman first getting a strike on goal from the edge of the box and then he wriggled his way brilliantly into the box, but skewed his shot across the face, although a sliding Ryan Griffiths was inches away from tucking the ball home.
The match was pulsating with Aloisi this time denied by substitute keeper Adeji, while up the other end Schwarzer produced his best save, standing tall to deny a first time close range volley from Muntari.
Australia pressed for a winner and Kisnorbo was inches away from heading home at the back post from a free kick, while an Aloisi cross was cut out by Adeji with Holman charging in to strike home.
After the match Graham Arnold said, “I am over the moon (with the performance). I have just spoken with the players; I-m so proud of them. Once again they-ve shown their commitment for the cause, but overall the performance was outstanding.
“The second half we were a little bit disjointed and that came down to making as many subs as I made, and the loss of Vinnie Grella, that is how important he is to the new system that I am trying to implement.
“But we-ve got four young boys that showed tonight that they-re the future, that they can handle the level and that they have to step up for the 2010 World Cup.”
Socceroos 1 (John Aloisi 25- pen) Ghana 1 (Francis Agogo 75-)
Australian line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk), Craig Moore (Michael Thwaite h/t), Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Scott Chipperfield, Vince Grella (Kasey Wehrman 53-), John Aloisi, Mark Bresciano (Ryan Griffiths 78-), Mile Sterjovski, Luke Wilkshire (Brett Holman 75-), Patrick Kisnorbo Subs not used: Michael Petkovic (gk), Shane Stefanutto, Michael Beauchamp
Cautions: Chipperfield (60-)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)