After taking the lead inside the first minute, the Americans rarely threatened the Ghanaians but were frustrated by a dogged defensive display. Golden opportunities fell to both Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew but were squandered as frustration grew with time ticking away. But despite these chances, with just eight minutes left their persistence paid off. Gyan produced a wonderful back heel to Ayew, who finished powerfully and confidently and not like a man who had previously disappointed in front of goal. Likewise, after seeing Ghana deservedly level late on, America kept up their fight and after winning an unlikely corner John Brooks headed home the winner. The magic of the World Cup!
With a powerful and quick attacking unit, there were high hopes of being entertained while watching Ghana. It looked as though this wasn’t going to be the case after a disappointingly one dimensional and predictable attacking display from the Ghanaians in the first half. Christian Atsu looked bright from the off and got some joy down the right hand side but soon the African side’s game plan seemed to boil down to feeding Atsu down the right and hoping for him to produce. Bringing on Kevin-Prince Boateng and a vast improvement from Sulley Muntari saw Ghana rally in the second half playing with greater intensity but it still wasn’t the performance expected of them.
The American front man was far from prolific domestically for Sunderland in the Premier League last season but plays an important role in his country’s side. After he limped off after 20 minutes, his replacement Aron Johannsson largely failed to fill his role. With no real pace or height, Johannsson was unable to provide an outlet for the Americans who faced sustained periods of pressure from Ghana with no way out. The prospect of losing Altidore will have boss Jurgen Klinsmann sweating going into their next two ties with Germany and Portugal with no like for like replacement.
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