Ghana makes history; enters quarter final

Last Updated: Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 12:12

Rustenburg: Ghana became only the third African side ever to reach a World Cup quarter-final Saturday as they beat the United States 2-1 in a dramatic match in Rustenburg.

Kevin-Prince Boateng gave Ghana a dream start with a fifth-minute lead, but Landon Donovan levelled just after the hour off a penalty to take the game into extra-time.

Asamoah Gyan then restored Ghana`s lead in the 93rd minute, and the Black Stars held out through a mixture of discipline and desperation to keep alive the chances of the only African team left in the South African tournament.
`The entire continent is behind us,` said Bayern Leverkusen defender Hans Sarpei.

Unlike against Algeria, when they clinched a last-gasp winner, the Americans` fighting spirit was not enough to see them through, with the inspirational Donovan admitting after that they paid for their inexperience.

`You can`t make mistakes at this level,` Donovan said. `We were a bit naive tonight`.

Scoring goals had been Ghana`s problem for some time - they had not got two in a game since a 2-2 draw against Mali in World Cup qualifying in November, and their only two goals in the tournament so far had been penalties - but in Rustenburg it took them just five minutes to score.

The introduction of Samuel Inkoom for Prince Tagoe saw Ghana shift to loose 4-4-1-1 shape, and the result was that they suddenly had runners breaking from midfield to support Gyan, who so often in this tournament had been an isolated figure.

It was from just such a burst that the opening goal came. Boateng stole the ball in the centre-circle and was culpably allowed to advance. He then calmly slotted a drive inside Tim Howard`s right-hand post.

It was Ghana`s first World Cup goal from open play since Haminu Dramani got the opener in their 2-1 win over the US in Nuremberg four years ago.

With Ghana playing marvellously rhythmic football, the US were reduced to petty fouling, and both Ricardo Clark and Steve Cherundolo were booked inside the opening 20 minutes.

So concerned was US coach Bob Bradley they he switched shape from 4-4-2 to 4-1-2-3 on the half hour, sacrificing a clearly upset Clark for Maurice Edu.
The move unnerved Ghana and within five minutes Robbie Findley, shunted to a right-wing role, had cut inside to be denied by the left boot of Richard Kingson.

Ghana, though, still posed a threat and soon after Howard also saved with his feet to keep out an effort from Kwadwo Asamoah.

But the momentum had shifted, and after John Pantsil had turned a Landon Donovan cross away from Jozy Altidore, Kingson made a superb sliding block to deny substitute Benny Feilharber.

The equalizer, though, was coming, and it arrived after 62 minutes, as Clint Dempsey skipped by John Mensah, and was brought down by Jonathan Mensah. Donovan converted the penalty via the inside of the post.

Michael Bradley sent a drive just wide and Altidore, having gone down in a tangle with John Mensah prodded another effort just off target.

But Ghana did not wilt before the US charge as Slovenia and Algeria had done before them. Instead, they held out to 90 minutes, and retook the lead three minutes into extra time.

Gyan, as tireless a front-runner as there has ever been, chased down Ayew`s up-and-under, held off Jay DeMerit and crashed in his third goal of the tournament.

All that was left then was for 27 minutes more of the sort of defending Ghana have produced all tournament.

It was frenzied and at times desperate, but Ghana had the obduracy to hold the US out. Africa`s World Cup remains alive.

`One minute you are on top of the world, the next you are at the bottom of the mountain,` a disappointed Donovan said.

IANS



First Published: Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 12:12

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