The atmosphere was gripping in this Group D do-or-die match between Ghana and Germany, with plenty at stake for both sides. Ghana were the continent’s only probable hope (barring a miracle by Ivory Coast in Group G) left of advancing to the round of sixteen.The Black Stars could become only the second African team to reach the knockout stages in two consecutive World Cups; Nigeria were the first team to achieve that feat in 1998. A draw would have been enough for Ghana regardless of the result of the other group match, as they topped the group.
On the other hand, three-time champions Germany were humbled by the Serbians in their last match, the first loss in a group league match in twenty four years for Die Mannschaft.That loss had left them in a precarious situation, even though they had a fairytale beginning to their quest for the fourth trophy.
The team had previously managed to reach the next round of the tournament on the last fourteen occasions. Germany needed a victory to ensure their qualification to the next round; if they played out a draw, they could still qualify provided Australia defeated Serbia.
Germany made two changes to their side. Cacau, as expected, replaced Klose who was suspended after seeing red in the last match. Jerome Boateng got his chance at the expense of Badstuber. This is the first time two siblings were playing against each other in a world cup, as Kevin Prince Boateng, Jerome’s brother, chose to represent Ghana instead . This was Germany’s 95th World cup match, the highest and one more than Brazil’s tally (Brazil will equal the record when they play Portugal this friday), though the Brazilians played in two world cups more than the Germans.
Ghana showed their intent right from the start, as the first move was potent to test Neuer. Moments later Cacau luckily got a through ball, but could not find any team mates in the box and his wild shot went over the bar.Just a minute later, Podolski banged the ball towards the Ghana goal, but a good block from Mensah forced a corner.Germany started to find their feet in the game , as Özil Found Podolski in the left corner ,whose enticing low cross was met with the eager foot of Jonathan; Kingson, though surprised by the deflection, thwarted away what could have been Ghana’s first own goal in this world cup.
Till the fifteenth minute, Germany had 66% of the possession. But then the momentum shifted slightly towards the Ghanaian side. Asamoah’s pass found Kevin Boateng, whose clever through pass found Gyan unmarked inside the penalty box,but Schweinsteiger’s last ditch tackle saved Germany the blushes.A few minutes later, Gyan attempted another long ranger from outside the box, but it went well over the crossbar ,wasting a good chance for Ghana to take the lead.
The match trickled at a rather slow pace, with neither team looking eager to open the sluice gates.In the 23rd minute, Mertesacker lost possession just outside the penalty box; Gyan played a passing game with Ayew, but by that time the German defense got back to position and foiled any danger. Soon, in a counter attacking move, Özil was left one on one with only Kingson to beat, but a brilliant save by Kingson combined with a poor effort from Özil kept the Germans from opening their account in the game.
Ghana then found themselves a bit lucky for getting a corner, when the replay showed there was no German contact with Kevin’s shot from the right flank.That corner led to Ghana’s best chance till then, but Gyan’s goal bound header was cleared by Lahm who was taking guard in far post. Replays showed the ball had brushed Lahm’s upper arm; the match officials had already penalized players for similar actions in this world cup, but not this time. Soon, Ayew got the better of Jerome Boateng near the left side of the German box, but Kevin prince Boateng failed to convert the header from Ayew’s cross. In the 40th minute, Schweinsteiger’s tantalizing free kick was on target as it evaded a melee of players inside the penalty box, but an alert Kingson parried the ball away to safety. The first half concluded with neither team taking any more initiative to open their goal account.
The second half started in the same dull way. Even though the Germans knew that they have to win to avoid depending on the result of the other group match, they were neither taking their chances nor creating any. Instead Asamoah got one on one with Neuer, thanks to a Mertesacker positional error, but his effort was kept at bay by the German shot-stopper.Till the 60th minute, the Germans again got their men behind the ball but their attack was getting dissolved in front of a well organized Ghana defense.
Germany finally scored one, even though they did not look like scoring any till that point. In the 60th minute,Müller cut inside from the right flank to find an unmarked Özil at the edge of the penalty box. Özil’s clean left footed strike found the top right corner of a surprised Kingson’s goal.The goal seemed to have awakened Ghana from their hibernation, and soon in a counter attack Jerome Boateng’s last ditch tackle saved Prince Tagoe’s header from going in. In the 65th minute, Muntari replace Tagoe to add some firepower to Ghana’s attack. Ghana started playing with more commitment and immediately were rewarded with a chance. Gyan’s deft backheel found an unmarked Ayew inside the German penalty box, but Lahm’s top notch last ditch tackle yet again denied Ayew from scoring the Africans’ first goal of the match.
Jerome Boateng was not comfortable throughout the match, as most of Ghana’s chances were coming from the left flank only. Soon Joachim Löw replaced him with Marcel Jansen, to put an end to the pangs of their leftback woes.Piotr Trochowski and the alented youngster Toni Kroos also got their chances to guide Germany to safety. In the later stages Ghana replaced Gyan, their most dangerous player on the pitch, with the experienced Amoah, to add some pace to the game. But by that time it was too late and Germany slowly and surely held on to their narrow lead to seal their fifteenth consecutive appearance in the second round in world cup history, and set up a date with old foe England.
Though Ghana lost the match, they also qualified for the knock out stage, thanks to Australia’s superior show in the other match against Serbia, which ensured that Ghana finished ahead of the other two teams in the Group.
TheHardTackle’s Player of the Match: Philipp Lahm(Germany)
The Bayern München stalwart’s uncompromising and timely intervention denied Ghana twice from scoring. The captain was decisive in defending and also linked comfortably with Thomas Müller in the right flank to create a couple of chances for Die Mannschaft.
TheHardTackle’s Referee Report Card:
Carlos Simon(Brazil) – Grade: A
The Brazilian referee had a pleasant outing today. Questions could be asked about Lahm’s goal line clearance. But the referee was spot on with the rest of the decisions.
GHANA 0-1 GERMANY
Venue: Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Ghana Line-Up: Richard Kingson, Hans Sarpei, John Mensah(c), Jonathan Mensah, John Pantsil,Anthony Annan, Kevin Prince Boateng, Prince Tagoe(Sulley Muntari ’64), Andre Ayew(Dominic Adiyiah ’90+2) , Asamoah Gyan(Matthew Amoah ’82), Kwadwo Asamoah
Caution: Andre Ayew
Germany Line-Up: Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng(Marcell Jansen ’73), Arne Frierich, Per Martesacker, Philip Lahm(c), Bastian Schweinsteiger(Toni Kroos ’81), Sami Khedira, Lucas Podolski, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller(PiotrTrochowski ’67),Cacau
Manager: Joachim Low
Caution: Thomas Müller
Scorer: Mesut Özil