3 July 2013

Ghana Stun Portugal in Five-Goal Thriller

Ghana have set up a FIFA U-20 World Cup quarter-final meeting with Chile after a thrilling, topsy-turvy 3-2 win over Portugal in Kayseri. Yiadom Boakye struck a dramatic late winner for the 2009 winners in a game of two comebacks and some tremendous goals.

Portugal had begun the match as strong favourites after their impressive group campaign and they should have been in front inside the first minute. That was when the normally reliable Aladje fired over from eight yards, failing to convert a great cross from Bruma, who had skilfully evaded the attentions of two defenders.

Ghana, however, steadily grew into the match and registered a noteworthy effort of their own on the quarter-hour mark, when a curling Moses Odjer shot forced a fine save from Jose Sa. It was a warning for Portugal of what the Black Satellites were capable of, and four minutes later they were provided with another, more costly demonstration.

A stunning goal it was too, fired home from 30 yards by Kennedy Ashia, whose ferocious shot left Jose Sa without a hope of keeping it out. Long-range shots were a feature of Ghana's play in the first half and so too was excellent defensive organisation, with Bruma - one of the tournament's undisputed stars - left to cut an unusually subdued figure.

The Portugal No11 was, though, involved when the Iberians first threatened in the second half, combining with Aladje to set Andre Gomes for a 25-yard volley that flashed just over. Ghana were dropping ever deeper and, as the pressure increased, it was no surprise when parity was restored with 19 minutes remaining.

The source of the goal was unexpected, however, with long-haired centre-half Tiago Ferreira smashing a terrific left-foot shot in off the underside of the bar after the ball had dropped loose inside a packed penalty area. Portugal's tails were up now and just two minutes later, after Bruma's deflected shot had struck the outside of the post, they moved in front.

Again, it was a defender providing a finish of which any striker would have been proud, with Edgar Ie bulleting home a textbook header off the inside of the post from Ricardo Esgaio's inviting right-footed cross. But Ghana weren't ready to accept defeat and six minutes later they found another goal of their own, Michael Anaba stabbing home from inside the six-yard box after Yiadom Boakye's initial effort was parried.

Then, with five minutes remaining, this dramatic match took one final twist. It seemed all but impossible that Boakye could score from a free-kick almost on the byline wide on the left, but the Portuguese wall split and the Ghana No20's fiercely struck shot sneaked in at the near post.

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