World Cup 2010 – Gyan guides Ghana past Serbia

Asamoah Gyan’s late penalty saw Ghana defeat Serbia 1-0 in the World Cup Group D opener at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

Gyan calmly rifled an 84th minute spot kick into the roof of the net after Serbia sub Zdravko Kuzmanovic had handled.

Just 10 minutes earlier Serbia had been reduced to 10 men after Aleksandar Lukovic was dismissed for a second bookable offence and his misery was compounded as the late goal saw his nation slip to their fourth consecutive World Cup finals defeat.

Kevin Prince-Boateng was setting himself to volley Andre Ayew’s long cross but Stuttgart midfielder Kuzmanovic had time to head clear only for the ball to brush his outstretched hand.

It was an inexplicable error but the Black Stars were the better side in a lively encounter as coach Milovan Rajevac engineered the downfall of his homeland.

Early on, the impressive Kwadwo Asamoah rifled in an angled shot which Nikola Zigic poked behind without any control and it could easily have nestled in his own net.

Soon after Asamoah’s superb free-kick was met by John Mensah but the big Sunderland defender was unable direct his header on target while Gyan was just a fraction away of meeting a delicious centre from Boateng.

Serbia, for whom Marko Pantelic unleashed an audacious 35-yard effort inside 10 seconds, were not without moments of their own in the opening period.

Aleksandar Kolarov’s left footed free-kick just curled over the corner of post and bar while Dejan Stankovic’s skidding shot bounced in front of Richard Kingson who was able to claim at the second attempt.

After the break, a great cross from the right by Prince Tagoe found Ayew but he failed to get his header on target from six yards and Serbia immediately went up the other end only for new Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic to fail to make clean contact with his volley from point blank range.

Gyan then headed Pantsil’s long-throw against the outside of his post before Lukovic’s dismissal.

After earlier being booked for a late tackle on Asamoah, the centre back tugged back Gyan to become the third player dismissed in these finals. It was a needless challenge 45 yards from goal but it initially did not hinder his side.

Danko Lazovic’s cut back from the by-line was well struck by Milos Krasic but Kingson tipped over and from the resulting corner Nemanja Vidic headed over the top.

A marauding run from Branislav Ivanovic and a good hit from distance followed before Serbia were rocked by the penalty decision.

Kuzmanovic did have a chance to make amends for his blunder but smashed a shot over the bar and Gyan could have put some icing on the cake in the final minute but his curling effort came back off the inside of the post.

However Ghana took the three points and at full-time, the first African victory of the first African finals was met with scenes of rapturous joy.

Match Stats

Serbia v Ghana

Goals 0-1

1st Half Goals 0-0

Shots on Target 2-1

Shots off Target 9-12

Blocked Shots 3-2

Corners 4-4

Fouls 10-16

Offsides 2-0

Yellow Cards 2-2

Red Cards 1-0

Passing Success 81.6%-81.3%

Tackles 19-22

Tackles Success 84.2%-86.4%

Possession 50.3%-49.7%

Territorial Advantage 41.3%-58.7%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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