Monday, March 4, 2024
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Kudus brace helps Ghana prevail over South Korea in nail-biting victory

Ghana kept their 2022 FIFA World Cup hopes alive in Monday’s second thrilling match involving African teams by defeating South Korea 3-2 in a memorable battle. Ajax playmaker Mohammed Kudus scored twice for the Black Stars, including the winning goal in the second half after South Korea came from two down through goals from Cho Gue-sung. Ghana are on three points in Group H following the result and will square off with Uruguay in a Friday matchup where a win will guarantee the Black Stars a spot in the knockout stage.

Manager Otto Addo returned to his favored 4-2-3-1 formation for the match but Ghana needed to hold off an early wave of attacks. The Black Stars kept the opening twenty minutes scoreless thanks to sharp defending and Korean wastefulness on set pieces, an area where Ghana’s superiority on the day gave them the edge. In the 24th minute the Korean defense failed to head clear a Jordan Ayew free kick from out wide, leaving center back Salisu with an easy finish from close range.

The opening goal brought a massive boost to the confidence and calm to the Ghana team, leading to a stretch of good possession play that frustrated their opponents and set the stage for the Black Stars to double their lead in the 34th minute. Ayew was once again directly responsible, whipping in a beauty of a cross from the left flank that Kudus got the slightest of touches on to direct past Korean goalkeeper Seung-Gyu Kim.

South Korea were determined, however, and played their way back into the match through substitute attacker Lee Kang-in and the aerial prowess of Cho. Lee won the ball in the Ghanaian half in the 58th minute before launching a precision cross for the Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker, who cut the deficit in half with a glancing header past Ghana keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi. A couple of minutes later it was Cho again who rose above Ghana left back Gideon Mensah to head in a cross from left back and club teammate Kim Jin-su.

It appeared South Korea had all momentum on their side to push forward and go for the win but Ghana had one more trick up its sleeve. Mensah got forward down the left flank and sent in a cross that striker Iñaki Williams missed but Kudus was on hand to strike a low shot past Kim to restore Ghana’s lead in the 68th minute.

South Korea laid siege to the Ghanaian goal for the remainder of the match with numerous crosses testing the Ghanaian defense and goalkeeper Ati-Zigi but there was no breakthrough. The Korean frustration was well summed up when a deflected shot went out for a corner kick in the eleventh minute of stoppage time and referee Anthony Taylor whistled full time, a decision that was met with disdain from the South Korea team and led a straight red card for manager Paulo Bento.

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