World Cup 2010, Uruguay Vs. Ghana: Heartbeak Finish Sees Ghana, Africa Out Of World Cup, Uruguay Into Semifinals

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.

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