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So near yet so far for Ghana

July 2, 2010

Muslera beaten by Muntari's shot

Ghana had a great opportunity to create history today by becoming the first African nation to reach a world cup semi-final, but unfortunately they did not make good use of the chances presented to them, and in the end had to bow in front a combative Uruguay side led by Forlan in great form, and also by Uruguayan keeper Muslera who was the star of the penalty-shootout.

Uruguay had a strong hold on the game since the beginning, and the Ghanaian players were living on a razor’s edge such was the pressure from Uruguay, led by Forlan and Suarez in front, causing torments to the whole Ghana team. It was only about the half-hour mark that Ghana got back in the game with some well placed counter-attacks, and eventually this led to Uruguay pushing back to defend more. Ghana eventually found the opener, when in first half added time, Muntari unleashed a powerful 35 meters drive, and Muslera was taken completely by surprise, as well as was masked by players in front of him to react quickly to the shot.

The second half yet again saw Uruguay push this time for an equalizer, and it finally came on the 55th minute, resulting from a freekick, which was curled powerfully by Forlan past Kingson, who as Muslera, had misjudged the ball’s initial trajectory and ended up moving the wrong way for a couple of steps before back-tracking unsuccessfully. From there on the game was more like a cat-and-mouse one, with Ghana barely pressurizing while Uruguay as well could not find their second goal. For the 90 minutes, Forlan and Suarez had really impressed with their pace and movements to pressurize the Ghana defenders and create opportunities for their team mates, and concerning Forlan am sure Sir Alex must be kicking himself for having sold such a player some years back now…

Extra-time it was, but yet again both teams were looking completely exhausted and the attacks were rare, although in the dying minutes of its second half, Ghana were awarded a penalty, and Suarez was sent off for ‘saving’ a goal-bound header with his hands, almost in a goalkeeper style. Gyan stepped up to take the shot, but somehow threw in too much power rather than place the shot, and it rocketed off the bar and out of play, while the ref ended the extra-time period.

This led to the penalty-shootout session, in which Gyan managed to redeem his unfortunate miss minutes ago, but his team mates Mensah and Adiyiah missed back to back penalties, as Muslera turned out to be Uruguay’s hero after stopping both of them, while Pereira’s miss for Uruguay proved to be of no consequence. This win means Uruguay will face Netherlands for the semi-final, the Oranje winning 2-1 against Brazil earlier, with Melo scoring an own goal then Sneijder scoring the second one for Netherlands, while Robinho had scored for Brazil early in the first half to give them a 1-0 lead.

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