Ghana have kept African World Cup hopes alight when they edge the USA to book a place in the last eight.
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Asamoah Gyan has rifled Ghana into the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup after striking early in the first half of extra-time. The game was locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes when a Landon Donavon penalty cancelled out Kevin-Prince Boateng’s opening goal.
With a quarter-final showdown with Uruguay awaiting either nation, both teams went on an early charge to find the go-ahead goal in what was an open, free-flowing contest.
It was Clint Dempsey who had the first shot on target for the US after four minutes when he rifled in an ambitious 25-yard shot straight to Richard Kingson. But 60 seconds further up the field, Ghana surged into the lead against the run of play.
Ricardo Clark lost possession for the Americans right on the halfway line and Kevin-Prince Boateng darted forward almost unchallenged before drilling a low shot right on the edge of the area into the bottom corner past Tim Howard.
Ghana immediately grew in confidence as they completely dominated proceedings after the goal. Andre Ayew and Samuel Inkoom were constantly presented with acres of space down both wings on numerous occasions as the US struggled to close down their opponents.
The Black Stars had their next chance on 18 minutes when Asamoah Gyan curled in a freekick from 20 yards out but Tim Howard was equal to the task with a clean punch.
The USA finally caused some real panic in the opposition goal on 22 minutes when Landon Donovan released Michael Bradley through on goal down the left channel, but his cross-cum-shot was easily saved by Kingson.
The Stars And Stripes continued to struggle to find any meaningful rhythm and coach Bob Bradley was forced to make a tactical change just half an hour into the match as Maurice Edu came on for Ricardo Clark.
The change seemed to work a treat as the US carved out their best chance of the game just four minutes later. Dempsey slipped in a through ball to Robbie Findley who tried to stroke it in at the near post, but Kingson made a superb kick-save.
Straight to the other end, Ghana had an identical chance. Jay DeMeritt allowed a long clearance from the back to bounce over him and Kwadwo Asamoah latched onto it, but his low drive was smothered by Howard at his near post.
Asamoah then blazed wildly over after being teed up by a clever backheel from Boateng but Ghana were still able to head into the break with the advantage.
The US, sensing a need to change the complexion of the game, sent on Benny Feilhaber to replace Robbie Findley for the start of the second half and just two minutes in, the substitute almost equalised for the Americans.
Landon Donavon’s pull-back from the right trickled to Jozy Altidore, who laid it off for Feilhaber to attempt a toe-poke right infront of goal, but Kingson spread himself wide and successfully swatted the shot away.
Boateng and Gyan then had two attempts at goal fly just wide for the Ghanaians as both teams started trading blows from one end to the other. And right on the hour mark, the Americans were given a lifeline when Jonathan Mensah brought down Dempsey and the referee pointed to the spot.
Donavan stepped up and coolly slotted his penalty in off the post, sending Kingson the wrong way as USA restored parity.
Six minutes later, they were presented with a chance to take the lead. Donovan released Altidore with a lovely through pass but Kingson was quick off his line to make a superb sliding tackle.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, the US should have given taken the lead. A slick build-up passing move saw Altidore release Bradley clean through on goal but he could only shoot low and meekly at Kingson.
Moments later, Altidore had a glorious chance himself when he wrestled John Mensah off the ball inside the box but off-balance, he could only pull his shot agonisingly wide.
The Black Stars suddenly looked out of steam and out of ideas as they pummelled multiple crosses into the box which was unable to be finished off. They did look the more dangerous side, however, as the Americans looked the more cautious as the game approached the end of regulation time and neither managed to find a winning goal.
The first period of extra-time saw the Africans picking up where they left off after 90 minutes and they were rewarded for their adventure just three minutes in. Ayew’s speculative lobbed clearance found Gyan, who stayed firm despite Carlos Bocanegra’s shoulder charge before rifling in a stinging half-volley past Howard from 12 yards out.
Shortly after, Feilhaber cannoned in a shot which just bounced wide after going through a crowd of defenders before Edu’s glancing header from a corner just flashed marginally off the mark.
Ghana wisely retreated at the start of the second period of extra-time as a place in the quarter-finals beckoned. Chances were understandably few and far between as the legs started to go but to the credit of both teams, neither stopped running and the Africans even ventured forward occasionally to find a third goal.
Herculez Gomez pulled a shot narrowly wide for the Americans late on and DeMeritt's overhead attempt just sailed over but there would be no more last minute heroics by the Stars And Stripes as the Black Stars hung on to claim a 2-1 victory to secure a berth in the quarter-finals to face Uruguay.