Penalty Hands Ghana WC Win!
Ghana's Asamoah Gyan celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game
A single penalty goal by Asamoah Gyan six minutes from time handed victory to Ghana in their opening 2010 World Cup match against Serbia at Loftus Versveld on Sunday afternoon.
The first half was a rather dull affair with very few chances falling the way of either side. Both teams struggled to get a firm foothold of the game as both continued to gift possession back to their opponents with some sloppy passing.
However, of the teams in the first half Ghana were definitely the least worse of the two and certainly started the stronger as well. The opening minutes of the match saw the Black Stars stringing some nice passes together but with very little penetration or threat on the Serbian goal.
One of Ghana’s best opportunities came from a 22-yard free-kick in the fourth minute. Asamoah Gyan was the man to try his luck as he curled the ball around the defensive wall but high of the target.
The Africans continued to be the better side in the opening minutes especially when they used the width of the pitch to attack down the flanks. Andrew Ayew, in particular, looked dangerous when he drove down the left flank and it was he that won the free-kick that led to Ghana’s other chance of the half in the 19th minute.
Kwadwo Asamoah whipped in the free-kick from the left side of the box and the captain John Mensah rose to meet it getting ahead of his marker. Under quite a bit of pressure from Nemanja Vidic the centre back managed to get his header away, but it went well wide of the target from six yards out.
The Serbians only real chance of the half also came from a set-piece in the 29th minute. Aleksandar Kolarov struck a 25-yard free-kick around the wall and inches wide of the right-hand up-right.
That was about as exciting as it got in the first 45 minutes as both teams fumbled their way to the half time break.
The lack of goalmouth action continued in the second half as both teams looked more and more frustrated as the half went on. Eventually that aggravation would come to the boil and it came in the form of a dismissal 15 minutes from time.
Again Ghana started the half lively and created two decent chances. The first came in the 54th minute when Prince Tagoe attacked down the right and chipped the ball into the back post where Andrew Ayew stood, unmarked, in wait. The young left midfielder, however, squandered the golden opportunity with a tame header that went well wide from only six yards out.
Then in the 60th minute a long throw in from John Panstil on the right side of the field caused some trouble in the Serbian defence as Gyan rose above everyone to meet it with a powerful header that hit the outside of the post and bounced out of play.
As the game struggled to find any rhythm the frustration of Aleksandea Lukovic boiled over as he received his second yellow card and was hence given his marching orders.
As the game pressed on it was only a matter of time before the Black stars took the lead, but when they did it came courteous of a dubious penalty decision by the referee in the 84th minute.
The referee adjudged substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic to have handled the ball inside the box. Nonetheless, Gyan calmly stepped up and slotted the ball past the Serbian keeper from the spot, 1-0.
Gyan was unlucky not to find his second goal six minutes later when he struck the post with a 16 yard shot.
The single goal, however, was enough to hand Ghana victory on the night as the match ended 1-0 and the Black Stars picked up their first win of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ghana (0) 1 (Gyan 84’ pen)
Serbia (0) 0
Ghana: Kingson; Panstil, Vorsah, Mensah, Sarpei; Tagoe, Annan, Boateng (Addy 90’), A. Ayew; Asamoah (Appiah 73’); Gyan (Owusu-Abeyie 92’)
Serbia: Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Lukovic, Vidic, Kolarov; Krasic, Milijas (Kuzmanovic 62’), Stankovic, Jovanovic (Subotic 76’); Pantelic, Zigic (Lazovic 69’)