Ghana clinch last 16 spot
22 Jun 2006 - 17:46:49
Ghana qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup as two first-half goals were enough to seal a 2-1 victory over the USA in Nuremberg.
But it was USA who had the best of the early exchanges and could have taken the lead as early as the third minute.
A deep cross was lofted into the Ghanaian penalty area and headed across the six-yard box by Eddie Lewis. But as attackers and defenders challenged for the ball, the referee blew for a foul against Clint Dempsey and Ghana won back possession.
Ghana then took control of the first half and opened the scoring after 22 minutes.
USA were in control of the ball just outside their own area when Claudio Reyna was dispossessed by Haminu Dramani.
The Ghanaian midfielder then ran clear into the box and slotted a composed finish past Kasey Keller in the US goal to put the Africans 1-0 up.
Ghana were looking good on their lead until the final five minutes of the half when USA stepped up the tempo and launched a series of good attacks that had the defence rocking.
The pressure told in the 43rd minute when DaMarcus Beasley won possession and raced clear of the Ghanaian defence.
As he approached the edge of the area he curled a low cross towards the six-yard box where the onrushing Clint Dempsey hammered a volley into the back of the net.
USA thought they had done enough to go into the interval all square but, when Razak Pimpong went down under the challenge of Oguchi Onyewu, the referee awarded a penalty and the Americans were visibly deflated.
Stephen Appiah stepped up and scooped his spot-kick confidently into the back of the net to put Ghana back in front on the stroke of half-time.
With USA needing the win, they had to come out in the second half and attack Ghana, and looked like they would do so as they reverted to a 4-3-3 formation
But they never really got a grip on the game and the second half never really got started for either team as the play was broken up by a series of fouls and misplaced passes.
And so Ghana have reached the second stage of their inaugural World Cup campaign where they are likely to meet Brazil.
The bad news for Ghana is that they'll have to play the world champions without Michael Essien as he picked up his second booking of the tournament early in this match.