17 June, 2006

Ghana Make You A Star: Czech Republic 0 Ghana 2

The Czech Republic were one of the best sides in the first round of games, while Ghana were comfortably beaten by Italy, but in the World Cup anything can happen, and in the first minute the form book is turned upside down when Ghana take the lead. Asamoah Gyan is the scorer, a calmly taken drive beating Petr Cech.

Now all they have to do is hang on for another 90 minutes, but they show no sign of sitting back on their lead like so many other teams in this competition. They match their opponents in every part of the pitch and look to have more in attack, with the Czech Republic clearly missing the presence of first choice strikers Milan Baros and Jan Koller.

On 30 minutes Amoah beats the Czech defence and turns in the box to unleash a vicious strike which curls just past the goal. A minute later Gyan has a shot saved by Cech. Stephen Appiah puts one just wide.

They defend well too. The only real chance for the Czech Republic comes shortly before half time when Rosicky fails to connect well with a dangerous cross from Karel Poborsky. Ghana have had much the better of it and are unfortunate not to be further ahead at the break.

Within a minute of the restart the ball is in the net again, but Pavel Nedved is clearly offside and his celebrations are cut short. The furious action continues, with Gyan forcing an excellent save after a solo run five minutes later. At the other end Jarosalv Plasil has a shot tipped over the bar.

The Czechs start to get on top but they suffer a blow on 64 minutes when Ujfalusi's last-ditch tackle results in his dismissal and a penalty for Ghana. Gyan tries to take the penalty while the referee is administering the card and is booked, ruling him out of the last game. At the second attempt his spot kick hammers into the post and is cleared.

It is a relative let-off for the Czech Republic but with the extra man Ghana are rampant. The Czech goal is peppered and Cech works hard to keep Ghana out until 82 minutes when Sulley Muntari finally beats him with a perfectly-placed finish. Soon afterwards he is booked, meaning that both goalscorers will now miss the next game.

Ghana slow it down and spend the last few minutes passing the ball around at leisure. They almost have a third but are stopped by the offside flag on three occasions. It is a low-key end to an exciting match, perhaps the most entertaining of the tournament so far, but having put in such an excellent performance they deserve the rest.

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