Sunday, July 7, 2013

FIFA U-20 WC Ghana 4-3 Chile:Assifuah settles seven-goal thriller

A dramatic 121st-minute goal from Ebenezer Assifuah has taken Ghana through to the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a thrilling 4-3 win over Chile at Istanbul’s Ali Sami Yen Arena. The Black Satellites hero’s strike, his second of the match, completed a remarkable comeback in extra time and set up a last-four date with France on Wednesday.

This was a match that always promised goals and it did not take long for it to live up to expectations, with Ghana taking the lead inside 11 minutes. They did so with a strike that is sure to feature in the goal of the tournament, with 16-year-old Moses Odjer the player responsible. Controlling Frank Acheampong chipped cross on his chest, Odjer stepped forward on to the dropping ball, waited for it to reach the perfect height and smashed a beautifully struck right-foot volley into the top corner from 15 yards.

Ghana were good value for their lead at this stage but Chile always looked threatening on the break and midway through the first half they levelled matters with an equally spectacular goal. Christian Bravo was its architect, stealing possession in midfield and playing in Nicolas Castillo at the angle of the box. The in-form striker still had plenty to do but he continued his goal-a-game record at Turkey 2013 with a rocket of a shot, sent crashing into the roof of the net at Eric Antwi’s near post.

The Black Satellites were stunned and, four minutes later, they found that their one-goal lead had turned into a one-goal deficit. Angelo Henriquez was the player to punish the Africans on this occasion, holding off and spinning his marker before drilling a low right-foot shot just inside the post from 20 yards. Chile were in the ascendancy now and might have added to their advantage before the interval, first when Castillo curled just over from 20 yards and then when Andres Robles headed into the side-netting from Bryan Rabello’s inviting free-kick.

Indeed, while Ghana responded well in the second half, it was the South Americans who continued to carve out the better opportunities, with Antwi twice called upon in the opening minutes to keep out powerful, goal-bound efforts from Castillo and Henriquez. The Black Satellites did, however, miss a glorious opportunity to restore parity, with Abdul Rahman Baba slicing wildly wide after bustling his way into a great shooting position ten yards from goal.

The pressure finally told, though, with 18 minutes remaining when parity was restored. Clifford Aboagye was the brains behind the goal, drifting in from the right and flicking through an incisive outside-of-the-foot pass for Ebenezer Assifuah to toe-poke the ball low beyond Melo. Neither side could find a winner within normal time, so an additional 30 minutes was required, and it was during extra time that Henriquez scored for the second time. Springing the Ghana offside trap, the Manchester United striker stretched to reach a lofted through ball from Claudio Baeza and looped a perfect header over the stranded Antwi.

However, the drama wasn’t over yet and with seven minutes of the 120 remaining, Oboagye threaded another pass through for Seidu Salifu to slot under the body of the advancing Melo. And Ghana’s remarkable escape act was completed with the final attack of the game, one minute into stoppage time in extra time, when a disastrous breakdown in communication on Chile’s line allowed Assifuah’s tame bouncing header to sneak over the line.

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