Gyan penalty gives Ghana 1-0 win
PRETORIA – Asamoah Gyan scored an 85th-minute penalty to help Ghana to a 1-0 victory over Serbia yesterday and the first win by an African team in the 2010 World Cup.
Gyan sent the spot kick high into the net for the only goal at Loftus Versfeld after Ghana had missed a series of headed chances. The Ghanaians earned the penalty when Zdravko Kuzmanovic handled a cross in the area.
“This is all I have worked for,” Gyan said, “and to be Man Of The Match, it is fantastic.” After the final whistle, the Ghanaians ran across the field in celebration, some carrying national flags to receive the applause of a crowd which had almost made them the home team.
“Every African is behind us,” Gyan said. “I salute all you guys. We win this match for you.” Ghana achieved the victory despite the absence of the nation’s best player, Michael Essien, who was ruled out of the World Cup with a long-term right knee problem.
John Mensah and Gyan missed the target earlier, and Dede Ayew headed against the post. Serbia’s only real threat near the end was a shot by Milos Krasic that was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Richard Kingson.
The Serbs had Aleksandar Lukovic sent off in the 74th minute for a second yellow card.
Ghana, the only African team to reach the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, had the vast majority of the support among the South Africans in the stadium. The fast-moving Ghanaians created more chances and should have been ahead by half-time.
Mensah headed a free kick wide of the far post and Gyan failed to reach a left wing cross by Kevin-Prince Boateng as the Serb defense failed to deal with well-directed balls into the middle.
Defender Aleksander Korolov produced the first danger to the Ghanaians with a 30-metre free kick that sailed wide and Kingson fumbled another long range drive by Dejan Stankovic.
But they made little use of the height of 2.03 metre (6-foot-8) striker Nikola Zigic, who went off in the middle of the second half after making little impact.
Ghana created another headed chance from a cross when Ayew got clear of the defenders in the 54th minute but headed wide of the far post with only the goalkeeper to beat. Then, a glancing header by Gyan flicked outside of the near post.
The Serbs finally got close in the 79th when Marko Pantelic left the ball to Krasic, whose first time left-footer was acrobatically pushed over the bar by Kingson. From the corner, Nemanja Vidic headed over.
In injury time, Gyan almost made it 2-0 but he hit the post after a burst down the left.
Serbia: Vladimir Stojkovic, Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Marko Pantelic (Neven Subotic, 76), Dejan Stankovic, Aleksandar Lukovic, Milan Jovanovic, Nikola Zigic (Danko Lazovic, 70), Milos Krasic, Nenad Milijas (Zdravko Kuzmanovic, 61).
Ghana: Richard Kingson, Hans Adu Sarpei, John Pantsil, John Mensah, Isaac Vorsah, Anthony Annan, Dede Ayew, Asamoah Gyan (Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, 90), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Lee Addey, 90), Prince Tagoe, Kwado Asamoah (Stephen Appiah, 72). (AP)