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Uruguay advances to the World Cup's semifinals for the first time in forty years, where they will face the Netherlands, after the dramatic elimination of Ghana, Africa's last active team in the tournament. The Uruguayans won a penalty kick shootout 4-2 after 120 minutes of play ended with a missed penalty kick by Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan that kept the score 1-1.
Ghana was awarded the spot kick after Luis Suárez intentionally handled what would have been the winning goal, a strike off the foot of Dominic Adiyiah that was destined for net as the last play of extra time. Suárez, standing on the line, reached out with his left hand, saving the shot earning him a straight red card (and a suspension for Uruguay's next match).
Gyan, who had converted his other two penalty kick attempts in the tournament, put the ensuing penalty kick off the crossbar, keeping the match 1-1.
In the shoot-out, Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera saved shots from John Mensah and Dominic Adiyah. Uruguay's single miss (from Maxi Periera) allowed Sebastián Abreu, La Celeste's final kick taker, to win the match with a chirp into the middle of goal, crossing the line as Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Kingson dove to his right.
The 4-2 shootout came after 120 of evenly-played soccer left the teams drawn at one.
Ghana scored the first goal of the match in first half stoppage time, with a long distance shot from Sulley Muntari beating Fernando Muslera, the first of two goals seemingly aided by the Adidas Jabulani ball. Muntari's shot seemed to travel about 20 yards before diving to Muslera's lower left, catching the Uruguayan keeper over-committed to the right side of his goal.
In the second half, Uruguay scored their own Jabulani-aided goal when Diego Forlán's direct kick from 20 yards out bent to the right and avoided Richard Kingson for La Celeste's equalizer.
The teams played evenly and conservatively through extra time until a Jorge Fucile foul before the final whistle have Ghana a dead-ball opportunity from the right flank. A Kevin-Prince Boateng flick-on led to a chance fro Stephen Appiah, which eventually led to the chance of Adiyiah that was saved by Suárez.
With Gyan's miss and Uruguay's penalty kick win, Uruguay is through to the semifinals, where they will face the Netherlands on Tuesday. They will be without Suarez for that match, suspended for his red card. Jorge Fucile will likewise be out, and captain-center half Diego Lugano had to leave this match at halftime with a knee injury. Defender Diego Godin missed this match with a thigh problem, with injury also keeping Álvaro Pereira out of the team.
Regardless, Uruguay is into the semifinals for the first time since 1970, when they lost to Brazil and then West Germany, finishing fourth.
Fernando Muslera saved the third and fourth Ghanaian penalty kicks, and when Sebastián Abreu chipped-in Uruguay's fourth goal with the fifth kick of the shootout, Uruguay was into the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup.
The teams finished extra time drawn 1-1, with neither team scoring in the bonus thirty after Sulley Muntari and Diego Forlan goals in regulation.
Forlan and Asamoah Gyan (who missed a penalty kick at the end of extra time that would have sent Ghana to the final four) opened with successful tries, with Mauricio Victorino and Stephen Appiah making it 2-2.
After Andres Scotti beat Richard Kingson to give Uruguay a 3-2 lead, John Mensah and Maxi Pereria missed kicks, giving Ghana a chance to pull even with Dominic Adiyiah's try. The 20-year-old striker's shot was saved by Muslera, making Sebastián Abreu's kick potentially decisive.
"El Loco" chipped a ball into the middle of goal, his shot arching over the goal line as Richard Kingson landed to the goal's right, putting Uruguay into the semifinals for the first time since 1970.
Team - Kick Taker - Kick Result - Standing
Uruguay - Diego Forlan - Converted into right of goal (Kingson guessed incorrectly) - 1-0, Uruguay
Ghana - Asamoah Gyan - Coverted into the upper right of goal (Muslera guessed correctly) - 1-1
Uruguay - Mauricio Victorino - Converted into the upper left of goal (Kingson guessed correctly) - 2-1, Uruguay
Ghana - Stephen Appiah - Converted into the upper left of goal (Muslera guessed correctly) - 2-2
Uruguay - Andres Scotti - Converted into the center of goal (Kingson guessed incorrectly) - 3-2, Uruguay
Ghana - John Mensah - Saved by Muslera to the right of goal - 3-2, Uruguay
Uruguay - Maxi Pereira - Missed over goal - 3-2, Uruguay
Ghana - Dominic Adiyiah - Saved by Muslera to the right of goal - 3-2, Uruguay
Uruguay - Sebastián Abreu - Chipped into middle of goal (Kingson guessed incorrectly) - 4-2 Uruguay wins
Asamoah Gyan, who has converted two penalty kicks in this year's World Cup, missed a penalty kick to end extra time, keeping the score 1-1, sending Uruguay and Ghana to a penalty kick shootout.
The kick was awarded after a Jorge Fucile foul on Ghana's right flank gave the Black Stars a set piece opportunity with what would have been the final attempt of extra time. A ball flicked on by Kevin-Prince Boateng saw a chance for Stephen Appiah saved, with the rebound finding the foot of Dominic Adiyiah. The starlet's shot was saved off the line by Luis Suárez who reached-out and intentionally handled the ball, saving a sure goal but drawing a red card.
Gyan's penalty kick, which would have put Ghana into the semifinals, hit the crossbar and went over goal, keeping the score tied at one.
The match now goes to a penalty kick shootout.
Uruguay and Ghana played the last fifteen minutes of regulation time without generating significant chances, settling-in to the idea of extra time in their World Cup 2010 quarterfinal match.
Goals by Sulley Muntari and Diego Forlan have carried the teams into extra time drawn at one, with Uruguay having used all of their substitutions. Ghana, playing their second consecutive extra time match, have one substitution remaining.
The teams will play two, 15-minute extra time halves. If they remain drawn after that 30 minutes, the teams will go to a penalty kick shootout.
Shortly after Oscar Tabarez used his final substitution, Milovan Rajevac has used his second, taking off goal scorer Sulley Muntari in favor of starlet Dominic Adiyiah.
Adiyiah, the 20-year-old AC Milan forward, can also play in a wide position. He comes on for the Internazionale striker in the 88th minute.
Because Óscar Tabárez has led in each of his World Cup 2010 matches, he hasn't had the opportunity to make one of his standard, late match substitutions. Today, drawn 1-1 with Ghana in the 76th minute, Tabárez has been able to bring on El Loco, Sebastián Abreu, for Edinson Cavani.
Abreu is Uruguay's target striker, typically used as a late match substitution when the side elects to start throwing more crosses in the box, hoping for a goal through the air.
The match is now in the 83rd minute, still tied 1-1.
One of the least experienced Ghanaian players has come off for one of the most, with Samuel Inkoom being replaced by Stephen Appiah.
Appiah came on in the 74th minute for the 20-year-old defender, who has played midfield in the last two matches.
Now in the 79th minute, Ghana and Uruguay remain drawn 1-1.
Luis Suarez test Richard Kingson in the 70th minute, being put in alone to the left of goal for a point blank shot on the Ghanaian keeper, the Uruguayan's shot being pushed over the bar.
Suarez was put through by Nicolas Lodiero after some nice on touch passing through the right side of defense. Suarez's right footed shot was right at Kingson, who used two hands to lift it over the bar.
Kingson punched out the subsequent corner kick to keep the match level at one, now in the 75th minute.
The second Jabulani goal of the match has brought Uruguay even, with a 20 yard direct kick from Diego Forlán in the 55th minute going over the Ghanaian wall and swerving to the right, around goalkeeper Richard Kingson, for the equalizing goal.
The original flight of Forlán's shot took the ball just to the right of Kingson's wall, to which the goalkeeper reacted by moving to his right. The ball then kept moving to Kingson's left and went into the next, the second time tonight a goalkeeper allowed a goal through misjudging the flight of a long shot.
Now in the 59th minute, the score is tied 1-1.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has used two of his three substitutions as his team comes up of halftime, bringing on Nicolás Lodiero and Andrés Scotti.
Lodiero's been brought on for Álvaro Fernández, a surprise starter who was ineffectual in the first half.
Scotti replaces Diego Lugano, the team captain, who appeared to tweak his knee during the middle of the half.
On the stroke of halftime, Sulley Muntari's Jabulani goal put the Black Stars up 1-0 over Uruguay in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup.
The midfielder's left-footed shot from near 40 yards out knuckled in mid-flight, bending to goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's lower left after the `keeper had started moving right, for the match's only goal.
The shot culminated a first half that saw Uruguay exert most of the control, testing Richard Kingson three times in the first half hour, most notably with Luis Suárez's shot from 17 yards out in the 24th minute. Suárez's half-volley was headed for the goal's upper-right hand corner before the Ghanaian goalkeepe'rs stretch put the ball over the bar and out of play.
After half an hour, Ghana started asserting control of the match, generating counter attack opportunities, the best being for Asamoah Gyan in the 44th minute.
Then, two minutes into stoppage time, Ghana's only shot on goal in the first half found net, with Muntari putting the Black Stars up 1-0.
Isaac Vorsah and Asamoah have each had chances to put Ghana up near the half-hour mark, ended a run of control by Uruguay, yet the match remains scoreless.
Vorsah's chance came off a corner kick where Kwadwo Asamoah found the central defender at Uruguay's far post, with the 22-year-old heading just wide after he's lost his man, Edinson Cavani.
One minute later, Kevin-Prince Boateng rolled a ball into the penalty area from the right flank, with Asamoah Gyan running onto the pass near the penalty mark. The Rennes striker pushed the ball just wide of the right post, keeping the match scoreless.
Now in the match's 34th minute, Ghana and Uruguay remain drawn 0-0.
A Luis Suarez shot from 17 yards looking destined for Richard Kingson's upper-left hand corner was tupped over goal by the Ghana playmaker, keeping the match scoreless in the 24th minute.
Suarez was given some room from Ghana defender Isaac Vorsah an released a half-volley from just inside the penalty box. Richard Kingson was at the edge of the six yard box to cut down the angle and got a hand to the hard shot, putting it up of play for a goal kick.
Ghana and Uruguay remain scoreless in the 30th minute.
An attempt to play a ball along the attack's right saw Uruguay right back Jorge Fucile end up fouling attacking midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, with Fucile picking-up a yellow card for the infraction.
Fucile will now miss Uruguay's next match, potentially the World Cup semifinal, Uruguay advance past Ghana.
Through 22 minutes, Uruguay and Ghana remain scoreless in Johannesburg.
Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac has elected to start Sulley Muntari in the lineup spot vacated by the suspended André Ayew while staying with Samuel Inkoom on the other side of midfield (in place of Prince Tagoe).
Central defender Isaac Vorsah, out of three matches with injury, is also in the starting lineup, pairing with John Mensah in the spot occupied by replacement Jonathan Mensah. The younger Mensah, like Ayew, is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
Ghana Starting XI
G - Richad Kingson
LB - Hans Sarpei
LCB - John Mensah
RCB - Isaac Vorsah
RB - John Paintsil
M - Keivn Prince Boateng
M - Anthony Annan
LM - Sulley Muntari
CM - Kwadwo Asamoah
RM - Samuel Inkoom
F - Asamoah Gyan
Óscar Tabárez has one surprise in his Uruguay starting XI: the exclusion of midfielder Álvaro Pereira.
The FC Porto midfielder has started every match of the tournament, being subbed-off in three of them.
In his place, Tabárez is starting Álvaro Fernández, a more attacking option who has appeared in each of the last three Uruguay matches as a substitute.
Uruguay's Starting XI
G - Fernando Muslera
LB - Jorge Fucile
LCB - Mauricio Victorino
RCB - Diego Lugano
RB - Maxi Pereira
M - Egidio Arévalo
M - Diego Pérez
M - Álvaro Fernández
F - Diego Forlán
F - Edinson Cavani
F - Luis Suárez
There is another match today.
No, I’m not talking to you. I know you knew there was still a 2:30 p.m. Eastern kick-off, but other people - they might have called it a day after Brazil-Netherlands. Or, strike that: Netherlands-Brazil, after the Oranje’s victory over the Selecao this morning.
The winner of Ghana-Uruguay, the day's second match, faces the Netherlands on Tuesday in World Cup 2010's semifinals. If that proves to be Ghana, it will be the first time in the tournament’s history that an African nation qualifies for the final four. If it’s Uruguay, it will be La Celeste’s first semifinal trip in forty years.
And you thought the Dutch beating Brazil was big.
Uruguay, Going Forward: Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez’s move of Diego Forlán to a supporting striker’s role has been the tactical tweak of the tournament, taking the Uruguayans from a team that gave France their only point to a winner of three in a row, scoring six goals along the way.
Despite getting Forlán closer to the midfield, Uruguay still plays with a huge gap between their deep-sitting, three midfielders and Forlán, something that none of South Africa, Mexico, or South Korea were able to exploit. Ghana, however, may be the team best equipped to exploit Uruguay, having Kevin Prince Boateng, Tony Annan, potentially Stephen Appiah to patrol that area of the pitch and destroy what little link-up play the Uruguayans have.
Tabárez may need to rely on Alvaro Pereira, playing on the left of the midfield three, to either win some of the battles against Annan and Boateng or (preferably) give Uruguay an option wide left that they can use to either get around the Ghanaian strength or draw out some of the central midfielders, making Forlán’s life easier in the middle.
Once the Uruguayans are able to link-up, they’ve proved very efficient in the final third. Because of Tabárez’s tactics, that link-up has been infrequent for La Celeste; yet, Forlán and Suárez have still combined for five goals.
Ghana, Going Forward: The Black Stars have not found a way to generate goals. They’ve scored four times: two times from penalty kicks; two times from United States defending gaffs. Against Uruguay, they are unlikely to see one defending gaff to build upon, let alone two.
The problem isn’t so much getting into attack but crafting a final ball. Andre Ayew (suspended for Friday’s match) and Prince Tagoe have been able to beat teams wide and create chances for crosses. The final ball has not been that good, and when decent service is provided, Milovan Rajevac is reminded that it’s difficult to rely on crosses for goals when you’re playing a lone striker. And the team has similar problems through the middle, where the connection between Asamoah Gyan and Kwadwo Asamoah is just a little off.
There is no "ah-ha" solution or magic bullet here of Ghana. The Black Stars need to execute better. The crosses can work, they just have to be better. Building in the middle through Asamoah could lead to goals if he and Gyan can click. Ghana has the talent, but not surprising for a team so young, they lack the polish, something that is evident when trying to craft a final ball.
Ghana can always do as they’ve done throughout the tournament: Be patient and rely on opponent mistakes for goals; however, against an Uruguay team that’s more than willing to play conservatively until Forlan or Suarez made magic, Ghana may want to develop an alternative plan.
How The Match Turns: If Ghana discovers early that Boateng and Annan are capable of neutralizing Forlan, Rajevac can start to be more aggressive higher on the pitch, more aggressively throwing wings and wing backs into attack, abandoning balance and shape in the name of opportunism, knowing his central midfielders can handle the supply line to Uruguay’s dangermen.
Ghana may not have much of an attack coming into this match, but if they can stifle Uruguay early, they’ll be able to throw numbers at the problem.
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