Two goals from substitute Mubarak Wakaso was enough to see Ghana sneak into the semi-final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in a game where the pre-tournament favourites were completely dominated by the underdogs.
The first goal was Ghana’s only effort at goal at the time and came from the spot. The Cape Verdeans dominated the game after the goal, but failed to score and were punished late in the match when the Espanyol midfielder capitalised on the Cape Verdean goalkeeper’s decision to come up for the corner to slot into an empty net on the counter.
The game started quietly as both teams seemed to be sizing each other up with very few chances. The clearest opportunity of the early stages fell to Heldon after some good build-up play allowed Tavarez to set him up but he blazed his effort high. After more minutes of tentative play, Heldon created some space for another effort from distance which whizzed past the crossbar.
Ghana’s first real chance came from a corner but the Cape Verdean defence dealt well with Christian Atsu’s in-swinging corner in the 25th minute as the Ghanaians still awaited their first shot at goal. Fatau Dauda had to be alert a few minutes later though as Tavares produced a very good ball across the face of goal after some solid hold up play, but the Ashantigold goalkeeper did well to claim it with an attacker lurking. There were no further threats to any of the goalkeepers' clean sheets and the players went back for the recess with the scores level.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first half but the first shot on target in the game came as Tavares was allowed a free header from a corner but Dauda dealt well with it. Ghana went the other way almost immediately and with Asamoah Gyan played through on goal, he was barged off the ball for a penalty kick which Wakaso converted. Cape Verde went on the attack straight from the kick off and won a free-kick which was well worked but Heldon blazed his effort wide from just outside the 18-yard area.
The Blues Sharks had another free-kick a couple of minutes later which produced a good delivery but an acrobatic clearance from defender John Paintsil was what prevented Tavares’ flick from getting to a team-mate. The goal seemed to have galvanised Cape Verde, who went on the attack but Tavares scuffed his effort from just inside the box before Platini drew a great save from Dauda.
Cape Verde, however, still failed to score despite two wonderful crosses from Babanco which were allowed to whizz past the front of goal with no real threat. Dauda was, however, finally called upon to make a save as he stepped up to tip Djaniny’s effort around his upright after Gyan had lost possession in the Cape Verde box despite being played through on goal. Wakaso then blasted over after a short Cape Verde corner had hit the referee and sent Ghana on the counter-attack.
After a couple more wasted chances for the debutants, Ghana seemed to have finally found their edge again. Dauda kept his opponents at bay with a wonderful save at full stretch to save a free-kick, with time running out. The Cape Verdean goalkeeper came up for the resulting corner and when the cross was cleared forward Wakaso had the easiest of opportunities to finish into an empty net.
Ghana face one of either Burkina Faso or Togo in the semi-final while Cape Verde will be going back home with their heads held high.