Asamoah Gyan’s 83rd minute penalty kick conversation gave Ghana a 1-0 win over Serbia, the first three points of Group D play, and the first win by an African team in South Africa 2010.
Hosts South Africa opened the tournament on Friday with a 1-1 draw with Mexico. Nigeria lost to Argentina 1-0 yesterday, but today a late handball in the Serbia penalty area from substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic set Ghana up for Africa’s first victory.
The foul came as winger Andre Ayew broke down the left winger and lofted an innocent ball through the Serbia penalty box. Kuzmanovic awkwardly ran under the ball, misplaying it while his arm was raised. The ball struck his arm, earned the midfielder a yellow card, and awarded Ghana a decisive kick.
Striker Asamoah Gyan confidently finished high to the middle of goal as Serbia `keeper Vladimir Stojkovic went to his left, giving Ghana the decisive goal.
That tally came after 83 minutes to scoreless but relatively open play that saw both defenses defiant in the face of the up-and-down play.
The game opened up further in the 73rd minute when Serbia central defender Aleksandar Lukovic earned his second card in a pan of 19 minutes, earning a dismissal after he pulled down a Ghana defender by the shirt.
Initially, after falling to 10-men, Serbia generated the better opportunities, with Milos Krasic’s point blank opportunity saved by a well-positioned Richard Kingson before Nemanja Vidic barely missed on a header opportunity from just outside the six.
Then Gyan put Ghana in the lead and shortly after would hit the post with a shot that had curled around Stojkovic from 16 yards.
Ultimately, Ghana did not need Gyan’s second goal to get three points and go top of Group D ahead of Germany’s match with Australis later Sunday. The Black Stars’ next match in group is against Australia, where a win would put them into their second consecutive knockout phase.
Serbia’s loss means they must get a point from their next match, against Germany, to stay alive in the tournament.