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Soccer News of Saturday, 24 March 2007

Source: BBC/reut

Austria 1-1 Ghana

No Appiah, No Essien, No Problem...
VIENNA, March 24 --Austria and Ghana drew 1-1 in a lively friendly international in Graz on Saturday as both teams continued preparations for major tournaments on home soil.

Austria, the Euro 2008 co-hosts with neighbours Switzerland, took an unexpected lead after 55 minutes when midfielder Rene Aufhauser headed in Andreas Ivanschitz's corner.

Ghana, who will also be busy next year hosting the African Nations Cup, struck back with three minutes left -- Udinese midfielder Sulley Muntari benefiting from a poor Austrian clearance to level the match.

The Black Stars, who last year made their first appearance at the World Cup finals, had looked the stronger team for most of the first half.

Even without influential captain Stephen Appiah, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien and striker Junior Agogo missing through injury, Ghana created a host of good chances, the best of which fell to Muntari's Udinese team mate Asamoah Gyan.

Gyan, who scored the fastest goal of the 2006 World Cup, came close to another early strike on Saturday when he hit the crossbar in the third minute.

He then blazed narrowly over Alex Manninger's goal a quarter of an hour later.

Gyan's forced withdrawal at halftime with an apparent pulled muscle seemed to give the home side some breathing space and following Aufhauser's opener Roland Linz had two good chances to extend the lead.

Knowing that a defeat would affect their morale ahead of another friendly against Brazil few days later, as well as effectively ending their five-match unbeaten run, Ghana desperately searched for an equalizer which came after 86 minutes when Sulley Muntari levelled the scores.

The Austrians were left ruing those missed opportunities when Muntari pounced on a weak header from defender Christian Fuchs and slid the ball back through Fuchs's legs and beyond the outstretched Manninger.

Ghana's injury list worsened as goalkeeper Sammy Adjei got injured in the match and had to be replaced by Turkey-based Richard Kingson

Austria's next friendly is against France in Paris on Wednesday, while Ghana meet Brazil in Sweden on Tuesday.

Ghana: Sammy Adjei/Richard Kingson, John Painstil, Francis Dickoh, John Mensah Hans Sarpei, Eric Addo, Laryea Kingson, Derek Boateng/Alex Tachie Menson, Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan/Peter Ofori-Quaye, Haminu Draman/Michael Helegbe