KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany, June 17 -- The United States and Ghana both kept
their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup knockout stage alive after surprise
results in their Group E matches on Saturday. (Click to see results of other
Keller of the US celebrates at the end of their Group E World Cup 2006
soccer match against Italy in Kaiserslautern June 17, 2006.
The United States held Italy to a 1-1 draw in an ill-tempered match in
Kaiserslautern while Ghana scored an astonishing but well deserved 2-0 win over
the Czech Republic in Cologne.
Italy defeated Ghana 2-0 and the Czech Republic beat the United States 3-0 in
their first-round matches. Saturday's results put Group E open and every team
will wait until the last match for their fate.
Portugal, who beat Angola 1-0 in their opener, qualified for the knockout
stage after easing past Iran 2-0 in Frankfurt.
Three players were sent off by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda in the US vs
Italy match, in which a loss could keep the United States out of the next stage.
fan gestures in the stands before the Group E World Cup 2006 soccer match
between Italy and the US in Kaiserslautern June 17, 2006.
Italy caught the US defence flat-footed as Andrea Pirlo's in-swinging
free-kick was headed into the bottom of the net by Alberto Gilardino in the 22nd
The United States pulled it even thanks to an own goal five minutes later,
when Bobby Convey's free-kick from the right evaded everybody until Italian
defender Cristian Zaccardo shinned it into the corner of his own net.
The two sides failed to score in the second half even though both fought hard
in search of a winner.
US coach Bruce Arena was delighted with a point. "It's fantastic to get a
point from the match. We want to stay alive and we know that four points will
enough to put us through from the group," Arena said.
"It's a crazy match. We were nervous today," said Italy head coach Marcello
Lippi. "The own goal and the Rossi's red card made us more nervous. Obviously I
am not satisfied with the draw."
US goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who was named Man of the Match after the match,
was their team's No. 1 hero, producing a stunning display of goalkeeping to help
earn his side a point, particularly in the second half after his side was
reduced to nine men.
The pick of his saves came in the 73rd minute when he denied Alessandro Del
Piero with a one-handed save at full stretch.
Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi was the first to be sent off in the 28th
minute for throwing an elbow at US striker Brian McBride on the halfway line.
McBride, who plays with English premier league side Fulham, suffered claret
all over his face but he went back on his feet and returned to the pitch after
being cleaned by the physios.
The US side was also left 10 men on the pitch in the final minute of the
first half, when Pablo Mastroeni was shown the red card for a lunge on Andrea
Pirlo. His studs caught the Italian on the ankle.
In the 47th minute, the United States were down to nine men. Defender Eddie
Pope caught Alberto Gilardino and received a second booking and his marching