5 February 2012

Ghana/Tunisia: Black Stars Defeat Carthage Eagles in Extra Time

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Ghana goal-scorer John Mensah (5) tussles with Saber Khelifa of Tunisia.

Ghana defeated a 10-man Tunisian side 2-1 after extra time in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final in Franceville on Sunday night.

The Black Stars just about deserved their victory in an ill-tempered affair and now look forward to a semi-final clash with Zambia on Wednesday.

Their goals came via captain John Mensah and Andre Ayew, while Saber Khelifa netted for the Tunisians, who had Aymen Abdennour sent off in extra time.

Ghana were ahead on 10 minutes through skipper Mensah, who had netted just once in more than 70 appearances for the Black Stars before this tournament, but now has two in two games at the Nations Cup.

He headed home an inviting corner after a flick-on at the near post left him with the opportunity to direct the ball past Aymen Mathlouthi in the Tunisian goal.

It was the 100th goal for Ghana in their Nations Cup finals history, a proud milestone for the four-time winners.

Tunisia had a massive shout for a penalty on the half-hour mark as Khelifa appeared to be upended by Samuel Inkoom, but the Cameroonian referee Neant Alioum waved to play on.

The North Africans were level on 42 minutes though with a simple goal.

Ghana did not clear their lines effectively and Zouhaier Dhaouadi played a clever lob cross to the back post, where Khelifa headed in.

Jamel Saihi was fortunate not to receive a red card when he went in late on Mensah as the Black Stars defender cleared the ball. But referee Alioum was 40 yards away from play and let the challenge go. It was the end of the evening for Mensah though, who could not recover from the resulting knock to his ankle. He had to be replaced by Isaac Vorsah.

Saihi then found himself through on goal, but Ghana defender John Boye did brilliantly to track back and clear the danger, while at the other end, Asamoah Gyan shot just wide.

Andre Ayew had a good headed opportunity from another corner, but put his effort over the bar, and seconds later Mathlouthi saved brilliantly from Gyan after a superb Kwadwo Asamoah pass had set the striker free on goal.

Issam Jemaa forced a smart save out of Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey from 30 yards as the game limped towards extra time.

There was plenty of drama in the additional 30 minutes of play, with Andre Ayew profiting from a horrendous Mathlouthi error to restore Ghana's lead.

The Tunisian goalkeeper dropped an innocuous cross and the elder Ayew brother stabbed the ball home.

The North Africans were reduced to 10 men when Abdennour clashed with Jordan Ayew, the former leading with his head as the pair squared up, for a needless red card.

Ghana were able to hold on with relative ease after that and set up their meeting with the Zambians in Bata on Wednesday. It will be their first match of the campaign they will play in Equatorial Guinea.

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