World Cup: Nigeria’s Conquerors Ghana Sent Packing
Back in March, Thomas Partey’s away goal in Lagos sent Ghana to the World Cup at the expense of Nigeria. Ugly scenes followed the result, with several Super Eagles voicing their dysplasia at the performance, both on the pitch and off it. But there was one tiny silver lining.
The draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was made a few days later, and it threw up a tie that the planet had waited over a decade to see. A fixture that the eyes of the world would be on. Ghana vs Uruguay.
Back in 2010, it was the hand of Luis Suarez which stopped the Black Stars from becoming the first African nation in history from reaching the semifinals on football’s grandest stage, on African soil, nonetheless.
His last-gasp handball prevented Ghana from sealing a 2-1 victory and progression to the tournament’s final four. Instead, captain Asamoah Gyan would miss the resulting penalty with the final kick of the game, and the South Americans would go on to win via a penalty shootout, setting up a date with the Netherlands for a place in the Johannesberg showpiece.
12 years on from that fateful evening, the Ghanaians finally had their shot at redemption. The villain of the piece, former Barcelona and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, refused to apologize for the incident, instead pointing the finger at Gyan for missing the resulting spot-kick. That only stoked the fires ahead of this showdown in Qatar.
And as if the stakes weren’t high enough, the odds suggested that the winner of the tussle would progress to the last 16.
The Black Stars unable to claim their redemption
Ahead of the crunch clash, the Group H table was finely poised. Ghana knew that if they could avoid defeat, they would qualify for the second round at the expense of their nemesis. Uruguay knew that they had to win in order to have any chance of progressing while hoping a heavily rotated Portugal avoided defeat against Son Heung-Min’s South Korea, who had hopes of their own of progressing to the last 16.
Although soccer lines and outrights had made Uruguay the favorite for the World Cup, it was the Black Stars who started the brightest. And they were rewarded for that in the 20th minute when Mohammed Kudas was felled by goalkeeper Sergio Rochet. The referee duly pointed to the spot and just like 12 years ago, Ghana had the chance to take an all-important lead.
However, like back in Johannesberg, they couldn’t take it. Andre Ayew’s tame penalty was comfortably saved by the Nacional shot stopper, and his La Celeste teammates couldn’t hide their delight. And that elation was only elevated five minutes later, as Giorgian de Arrascaeta gave the South Americans the lead, bundling home after some shocking Ghanian defending allowed Luis Suarez in on goal.
‘Keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi made the initial save; however, the ball fell to the Flamengo attacking midfielder, who nodded home from barely a yard out. Six minutes later, the two-time World Cup winners were in dreamland when de Arrascaetadoubled Uruguay’s lead, finishing off a brilliant team goal.
As the game progressed, it was clear to see that on this night – just as was the case 12 years ago – things weren’t going Uruguay’s way. But there was to be a late sting in the tale, delivered some 25km away in Al Rayyan.
Late Korean Drama
While Uruguay was heading for a comfortable victory at the Al Janoub Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were experiencing anything but comfort inside the Education City Stadium. Luckily for manager Fernando Santos, his side had already qualified for the second round, but their opponents, South Korea, needed a win.
And things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Taegeuk Warriors when SC Braga winger Ricardo Horta gave the Portuguese the lead after just nine minutes. The 28-year-old was able to latch onto Manchester United fullback DiogoDalot’s cutback to lash home on his World Cup debut.
But the Koreans dragged themselves right back into the contest 20 minutes later courtesy of Kim Young-Gwon. The 32-year-old took full advantage of a corner that deflected off the back of Ronaldo and fell right into his path. It was easier to score than miss, and the Ulsan Hyundai man duly obliged.
The match then became a cagey affair, but deep into second-half stoppage time. South Korea finally got a deserved second. Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Hwang Hee-chan latched on to his fellow Premier League compatriot Son Heung-Min’s pass to slot past Diogo Costa and trigger wild scenes both on the pitch and in the stands. The final whistle came, but Son and co. couldn’t yet celebrate.
The game between Ghana and Uruguay was still being played, and La Celeste knew that one more goal would send them through at South Korea’s expense. They couldn’t find it, however, and it was South Korea who had sealed their passage to the second round in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Curated from: https://www.owngoalnigeria.com/2022/12/12/world-cup-nigerias-conquerors-ghana-sent-packing/
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