Uruguay ended Ghana's dream
of being the first African team in the World Cup semi-finals
when they won a penalty shootout 4-2 after their quarter-final
finished 1-1 at the end of extra time on Friday.
Uruguay substitute Sebastian Abreu
got the decisive penalty
with a cheeky chip over goalkeeper Richard Kingson to send his
team into the semi-finals for the first time in 40 years where
they will play Netherlands, who earlier shocked Brazil 2-1.
a Uruguay shirt here
Uruguay and Ghana could not be
separated after extra-time in
a thrilling contest after Asamoah Gyan hit the bar with a
penalty in the second minute of added time that was given when
striker Luis Suarez handled on the line and was sent off.
Having escaped by the skin of
their teeth Uruguay had keeper
Fernando Muslera to thank for two saves in the shootout.
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"We are very excited. These boys
deserve everything. Today
we didn't play well. It seems there's something forcing us
on, it must be the strength and unity of these boys," said
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez.
Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac added:
"I think we had more
opportunities than our opponents but that's football. We really
had good support and it would have been a fairytale but I would
like to congratulate Uruguay. I'm very proud.
"The whole of Africa supported us.
We didn't deserve to lose
this way. It's difficult but we're proud of what we achieved,"
he added after Ghana became only the third African team to reach
the quarter-finals following Cameroon and Senegal.
Ghana had taken the lead with a
speculative strike by Sulley
Muntari just before the end of the first half of normal time but
that was cancelled out by a masterful Forlan freekick 10 minutes
after the interval that brought the sides level.
In a game of wildly changing
fortunes, twice World Cup
winners Uruguay had dominated the opening stages as they worked
hard to set Forlan and strike partner Suarez free.
Ghana, despite enormous support
from their fellow Africans
packing the stadium, surrendered the ball too easily to a
hard-tackling Uruguay midfield.
It appeared to be going Uruguay's
way as they created the
chances with Forlan blasting the ball over the bar and then
minutes later Suarez's shot was tipped over by Kingson.
Ghana suddenly woke up, though,
and won their first corner
from which central defender Isaac Vorsah should have opened the
scoring but only managed to head wide. Minutes later striker
Asamoah Gyan was sent through only to shoot wide.
Uruguay's defence, which had only
let in one goal on the way
to the quarter-finals, suffered a blow when captain Diego Lugano
had to limp off and was replaced by Andres Scotti.
Then in added time at the end of
the first half, Muntari
struck a spectacular long-range drive to put Ghana ahead.
Ten minutes into the second half,
Uruguay won a free-kick
just outside the area on the left and Forlan struck the ball
perfectly, bending it over everyone's heads and beyond the
despairing reach of Kingson for the equaliser.
Uruguay coach Tabarez sent on
striker Sebastian Abreu after
76 minutes in search of a winner but neither side could break
the deadlock and the match went into extra time.
The first chance of the extra
period fell to midfielder
Kwadwo Asamoah but he blasted over the bar from outside the box
when he had space to compose himself. Minutes later Gyan was
blocked when he tried to go through by himself.
Uruguay appealed for a penalty
when Abreu went down in the
area while trying to latch onto a cross but Portuguese referee
Olegario Benquerenca showed no interest.
Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince
Boateng headed just wide two
minutes from the end of extra time and went close again with a
fierce drive from 25 metres which was saved.
The African side piled on the
pressure and were awarded a
penalty when Suarez handled on the line to keep out a header by
substitute Dominic Adiyiah and was shown a red card.
But Gyan missed the chance to win
the game when his spot-kick rattled the bar and the match went to a shootout.
Uruguay keeper Muslera saved
penalties from Ghana captain
John Mensah and Adiyiah while Maximiliano Pereira missed for the
South Americans. That left Abreu to keep his cool and score from
the spot with the last kick of a dramatic night.
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