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By ESPN Staff

Viduka and Kewell hail Socceroos' fighting spirit

STUTTGART, June 22 (Reuters) - Australian scorer Harry Kewell said the Socceroos' unquenchable fighting spirit had taken them to the World Cup second round for the first time after a thrilling 2-2 Group F draw with Croatia on Thursday.

Kewell's 79th minute equalising strike earned the Aussies the all-important point in a match of three red cards after they had twice gone behind.

'It just goes to show our fighting spirit. We kept attacking and creating lots of chances,' he told reporters.

'If it wasn't me it was going to be someone else (who scored). It's perfect for us - a lot of people didn't think we would get through the first stage. We left it a little bit late but we got there.'

Coach Guus Hiddink paid handsome tribute to his side who had proved a lot of critics wrong back home and in Germany.

'This was a terrific game. It shows why the beautiful game is so exciting. This team has a lion's heart, to fight until the end. They are very competitive, they never give up whatever happens,' he said.

Striker Mark Viduka added: 'What a great game tonight, you could not ask for more.

'It's very difficult when you cop a goal that early but we knew if we kept our composure we could do some damage. We showed we had the spirit to do it.'

Zlatko Kranjcar, the Croatian coach, said: 'I think my team played the best they can but we failed to get the result we needed. It was a dramatic and dynamic match and we missed our chances. I want to congratulate Australia.

'We have to look to the future.'

Croatia had two sent off - Dario Simic (85) and Josip Simunic (90) - and Australia lost Brett Emerton (87) to a red card.