Penalties decide competition fate...
After 105 minutes in Johannesburg, it's Uruguay 1-1 Ghana. Sulley Muntari gave the Africans a well worked lead late in the first half, but Diego Forlan equalised soon after the break with a wonderfully struck free-kick from just outside the area.
Three of Uruguay's back four went into the game with yellow cards. Ghana, meanwhile, were without midfielder Andre Ayew and Udinese defender Jonathan Mensah. Anthony Annan and Isaac Vorsah both entered the clash with cautions from previous games.
Ghana got the game kicked off, shooting right to left, but it was Uruguay who started to put the passes together in the first few minutes of the game. A speculative long-ball from Fucile nearly found Suarez, but the little striker was ruled offside. A dangerous cross and two corner kicks then peppered Kingson's goal, but the Black Stars did well to defend.
The first Ghana chance when Uruguayan centre-back Victorino conceded a foul on Asamoah Gyan just before the 10 minute mark. However, despite a decent delivery from Inter's Sulley Muntari, the final ball wasn't enough to trouble Muslera and Uruguay were soon off on the prowl again.
Suarez found himself with space to run at the Black Stars after poor control in the centre of the pitch by Annan gifted him the ball. He cut inside from the left, but his goal-bound strike was well stopped by the capable hands of Kingson. Uruguay were certainly looking like the side most likely to score at this point
A wonderful delivery fro.m yet another Forlan corner seen the ball come off the head of Cavani, before bouncing off John Mensah, and finally smacking Kingson right on the forehead. It was a well worked set piece that could have given the South Americans a deserved advantage, but the big 'keepers face saved the day.
Ghana finally perked up after 20 minutes, putting some passes together and eventually winning a set-piece in the final third. Muntari stood over the ball for a second time, delivering expertly, but none of the Black Stars registered enough interest, leaving the ball to fly past the back post and out for a goal kick.
Annan lost the ball once again midway through the first half, gifting Diego Forlan a free shot from just outside the area. The shot was high and wide of the mark, but it served to highlight a possible weak spot in the Ghanaian defence. Uruguay then took a quick throw in on the left and Suarez was able to roll Vorsah and let one fly. Again, Kingson made a wonderful save to keep the scores level.
Vorsah quickly made up for his mistake at the other end, finding enough space on a Ghanaian corner to direct the ball almost into the top corner of Muslera's net. It was not to be though, as the headed attempt went just wide of the post.
The Africans sustained the burst of pressure they had just created as Kevin Prince Boateng rounding his way towards the box, beating man after man, before squaring the ball to Gyan. It was a great pass, but the ball bobbled as it reached the striker, meaning he could only direct it past the post.
Having picked up a knock earlier in the game, Uruguay skipper Diego Lugano was forced to come off. Andres Scotti replaced the Fenerbahce defender during a troublesome time for the Uruguayans – Ghana were continuing to push forward in numbers. More alarmingly, Jorge Fucile lay on the ground with his eyes shut after an awkward fall in a challenge with Samuel Inkoom. He eventually got back to his feet, but the Celeste were well and truly rocked at the back.
After a flurry of attempts harangued Muslera's goal, including an ambitious but close overhead kick attempt from Boateng, a venomous, swerving, long range shot from Sulley Muntari caught the goalie off guard giving Ghana the lead at half time. At the break, it was Uruguay 0-1 Ghana.
Uruguay looked to recover quickly from the late first-half goal, Forlan whipping the ball into the box for an onrushing Cavani. Cavani looked to be fouled just on the edge of the box, but the referee waved play on, much to the attacker's disbelief. Soon after, Ajax's Nicolas Lodiero, who replaced Alvaro Fernandez at the break, seemed to block a Muntari free-kick with his hands. Again though, the ref motioned to get on with it.
Some great work from Fucile down the left won the South Americans a free kick on the edge of Ghana's box after John Pantsil scythed down the left-back. Diego Forlan opted to strike straight at goal and the speed of the shot saw it move in the air, fooling Kingson and finally ending up in the top corner. Uruguay were back in the game.
Boateng kept his head up after the goal, almost offering an instant reply as he played in Gyan. The striker seemed to take a little longer than he perhaps should have with the shot, but he troubled Muslera nonetheless. A good save from the Lazio goalie saw the ball out for a harmless corner kick.
Richard Kingson was almost made to feel like the second Ghanaian left ruing a mistake as his handling of an easy take gave away a free corner. However Forlan's delivery was uncharacteristically poor this time, and the 'keeper breathed a sigh of relief.
It wasn't long until he was under pressure from Forlan again though, as the clever forward broke forward before squaring the ball to Suarez at the back post. It was an extremely tight angle, even for the most seasoned of striker, but the 23-year-old held his head in his hands, clearly unhappy with his attempt.
There was then a decent penalty shout as Boateng went down the box after some muscling from Arevalo Rios and Maxi Pereira. The referee, for the third time, was still having none of it, unwilling to give anything other than a stonewall spot-kick. Ghana soon won a free kick from 25-yards to make up for it, but Gyan's strike was off-target.
Shots at both ends meant the game was explosive throughout the second period. Samuel Inkoom was hooked for the more experienced Stephen Appiah just as Forlan was allowed to strike another set piece at goal. The strike was a good one, forcing Kingson to scramble, but it only shaved the outside of the goal netting. Sebastian Abreu then took to the pitch in place of Cavani, heading straight to the front of the attacking line in a bold move by coach Oscar Tabarez.
Forlan almost added a second to his tally as the game edged into the last 10 minutes. A well timed ball in from the right found the Atletico Madrid striker, and he managed to get a foot to it. However, the touch from his heavily outstretched leg wasn't enough to tame the pass, and Kingson was able to wipe the sweat from his brow once more.
Sulley Muntari was hooked with minutes to go, A.C. Milan's Dominic Adiyiah taking to the stage in his place. With three minutes of extra time to play, both sides were scrambling to find that late goal that would avoid extra time. However, it was not to be, as the teams were too hurried in their actions to really create anything dangerous enough to trouble the 'keepers. After 90 minutes, the scores were even.
Ghana were the first to threaten as the first half of extra time commenced, winning an early corner. It didn't end well for Mensah though, as he was booked for dissent after claiming the referee should have done more about Fucile's heavy-handed defending of the set-piece.
Kwadwo Asamoah took it upon himself to rocket one towards goal from distance, and it was on target until it began to rise, but it would end up in the stands behind Muslera's goal.
Gyan looked like he might be in with a chance after Arevalo Rios made a mistake in his own box to gift the striker the ball. The rest of the Uruguayan backline managed to get back and rescue their chances of a long overdue quarter final though.
At the other end, John Pantsil looked to have fouled Abreu in the box. To most it looked like a penalty kick, but the referee's positioning dictated that he would wave for the lofty striker to get back on his feet.
Ghana threatened again in the second half of extra time through a decent set-piece delivery from John Pantsil. The initial attack was a bit scrappy, but the Ghanaians kept the ball well. The build-up saw the ball come back into Muslera's box and Gyan managed to get a decent header away, however the striker's nod went wide of the mark.
It was becoming increasingly more evident that the players were getting tired, both sides making silly mistakes through fatigue. It's worth mentioning that Ghana had already been through extra time against the USA on their path to this fixture.
A great ball in from the right saw Forlan free at the back post, but he foolishly opted to go for the strike with his left foot, forcing the ball wide of its intended target.
Ghana then began to push hard again. Appiah found space on the right to cross for Gyan who took the ball down well considering the pace on the pass. He turned his marker, but could only poke the ball towards Muslera who made a decent save.
A late flurry from Ghana saw a great flurry of chances heading straight for the net. A double goalline clearance meant the chances were kept out, but Suarez's second defence of the goal mouth was with his hands, prompting a penalty kick and a sending.
It should have been curtains for Uruguay at that point, but Asamoah Gyan, who had already scored twice from the spot for Ghana, hit the bar with his penalty. The ball flicked over the bar and the ref blew his whistle. Penalties lay in store.
Uruguay were the first to take a penalty, Diego Forlan charged with the task of stepping up first. It was a cool finish, sending Kingson the wrong way and leading by example. Asamoah Gyan, who had just missed a penalty, then stepped up to match Forlan's strike. An absolutely perfect spot-kick, right into the top corner saw the scores tied.
Victorino was the second of the South Americans to shoot from the spot. Another expertly struck set-piece meant it was 2-1, but a similar strike from Stephen Appiah bought it level once again.
Scotti was next in line. It was low and central, but it was hard enough to beat Kingson. John Mensah was the Black Star to next take the long walk. The defender stood over the ball arrogantly, not taking much of a run up at all. After taking one step towards the ball, he struck it tamely and Muslera made an easy low save.
Pressure evidently got to Maxi Pereira, as the full-back raced towards his penalty, skying the ball way over the bar having put too much power in the strike. Adiyah failed to take advantage of the gift from Pereira, sidefooting the ball slow and low, easy enough for Muslera to make another save.
It was up to now Kingson to save the Black Stars. Abreu took to the box, sauntering up the ball in cool fashion, chipping the ball straight down the middle as he watched Kingson flop to his left.
After a penalty shoot-out and a hugely exciting match, Uruguay have progressed to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.