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World Cup 2014
 

Ghana 1 USA 2: Highlights, key battles and what the result means

Published on Jun 17, 2014 8:40 AM
 
John Brooks of the US celebrates his goal against Ghana during their 2014 World Cup Group G football match at the Dunas arena in Natal on June 16, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

It has taken three World Cups, but USA has finally lifted the curse of their Ghana counterparts. Juergen Klinsmann and his men clawed their way to a 2-1 win over the Black Stars, thanks to a late winner from a substitute making his World Cup debut.

It might not have been the best game by both sides, but it was certainly heart-stopping stuff.

Highlights

- Clint Dempsey found the net within 30 seconds of kick-off - the fastest goal scored at this World Cup so far, and the fifth-fastest in the competition's history. Fine combination play between DaMarcus Beasley and Jermaine Jones allowed the former Fulham and Tottenham player to slide home an easy shot. The Ghanaians, caught sleeping early, did not even know what hit them.

- It took the Africans a while to settle back into the game, but once they found their footing, the Americans were constantly tested. Lucky for them, while the Ghanaians were deadly on the counter-attack and often outplayed the Americans on the flanks, they were also wasteful in the final third. Far too many high crosses failed to find anyone in the danger zone.

- After an extended period of attack in the second half, Ghana were finally awarded with an equaliser in the 82nd minute. An audacious back heel from Asamoah Gyan in the box allowed Andre Ayew to send one past Tim Howard.

- But the Africans' hopes of salvaging a point didn't last for long. John Brooks' downward header from close range, after a well-delivered corner by Graham Zusi, gave the Americans the winner. It was understandable that the young defender, who came on for his World Cup debut as a substitute, was overwhelmed with emotion.

Key battles

- DaMarcus Beasley v Christian Atsu
Gift exchange: Beasley gave Atsu far too much space down the right, and the Ghanaian returned the favour by giving him plenty of headaches.
The American was often beaten for speed and left many gaping holes that his teammates had to help plug. He can count himself very lucky that Ghana failed to capitalise on it more.

- Michael Bradley v Ghana midfield
One could be forgiven for thinking that Bradley, arguably one of the United States' best players, was left out of the game. It was an uncharacteristic off-day for Bradley, one of the main culprits behind the American team's loss of possession.

Man of the match

Jermaine Jones 
Although not one of the goal-scorers, the Besiktas man was a workhorse throughout the game and played a crucial part in the win. Jones was an absolute beast who locked down the midfield and brought much-needed physicality for the American side. He was the most consistent player of the day for the US and covered well for teammates' lacklustre performances.

What the result means
With top teams like Germany and Portugal in the group, this was a must-win for both the US and Ghana to advance through to the knockout stages.

With Germany's 4-0 obliteration of Portugal earlier, the Americans potentially need just four points to progress, and Ghana were the most winnable match-up. They could emerge from "group of death" if they manage to get a point from Portugal in their next game.

It is hard to see Ghana finding their way out of the group, especially when they have to go looking for points against Germany next.

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