London: Asamoah Gyan grabbed an injury-time equaliser as World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana snatched a 1-1 draw with England in an entertaining friendly at Wembley here Tuesday.
Andy Carroll's first international goal for England looked to have secured a 1-0 victory for Fabio Capello's side until Sunderland striker Gyan took advantage of hesitant defending to blast home the leveller in the 91st minute.
Gyan's goal was no less than the Black Stars deserved for their contribution to a passionate encounter played out before a crowd of 80,102 which included a large and raucous contingent of Ghanaian fans. Nevertheless Capello was satisfied after running the rule over several junior members of his squad following the decision to release John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Dawson.
"I'm really happy because I saw a fantastic game, not a friendly game," Capello said. "Every tackle was a fight, the players played very well, the players that played not a lot of games here, the new players, played well. It was interesting for me to know the value of these players when they need to play here at Wembley, in the senior shirt."
Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic said his side had deserved to grab a draw. "In the first half England was the better team, then in the second half I think my team gave a very good performance. I think after the way we played in the second half we merited this result," he said. "It's a good result because playing against England at Wembley is very tough."
Despite showing seven changes to the starting XI which defeated Wales 2-0 in a Euro 2012 qualifier last Saturday, England looked to have done enough to secure third straight win until Gyan's late strike. England took the lead two minutes before the interval through Carroll, making only his second international start following an appearance in a 2-1 defeat by France last November.
Aston Villa's Ashley Young dropped deep and flighted an exquisite ball over the top for club team-mate Stewart Downing.
Downing miscontrolled but the ball fell kindly into the path of the advancing Carroll, who drove hard and low across Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson into the bottom corner. England's lead was no less than the home side deserved after a pulsating period which saw both teams carve out a number of promising openings.
England's defence had any early scare on seven minutes when Kwadwo Asamoah sent Dominic Adiyiah racing clear on goal. The Partizan Belgrade striker shot low but England goalkeeper Joe Hart spread himself well and managed to block with his legs. At the other end, England's movement continued to cause problems for Ghana's back four, and both Young and Downing had early chances.
Only a superb one-handed save from Kingson prevented Young from grabbing England's opener on 15 minutes, the Ghana keeper diving at full stretch to turn the Villa playmaker's curling shot behind for a corner. Young squandered another gilt-edged chance on 24 minutes. Downing picked out James Milner down the right who squared across the six yard box only for Young to somehow scoop his close-range shot onto the bar.
That miss might have proved costly for England had it not been for another fine save from Hart. A free-kick swept in from the right eluded England's defence and Adiyiah dived to head across goal, only to be thwarted by a magnificent one-handed block from the Manchester City goalkeeper.
A lively start to the second half saw Ghana enjoy their best spell of the game, with John Pantsil seeing his shot from the edge of the area deflected just over the bar by Gareth Barry, named as captain in the absence of Terry. Substitute Jonathan Mensah then headed over a corner from Sulley Muntari as England's defence came under pressure. England withdrew Carroll to a standing ovation on 59 minutes, the goalscorer being replaced by Tottenham's Jermain Defoe.
With the clock running down England looked to be home only for Gyan to pop up with low shot that beat Hart diving to his right.
First Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 10:34