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18 Jun 2006 12:26
Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari scored a goal each on Saturday to lead Ghana to a surprise 2-0 upset over the Czech Republic in Group E of the World Cup.
Gyan picked up a pass from captain Stephen Appiah in the second minute and easily beat goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Gyan then missed a penalty in the 67th after Czech Republic defender Tomas Ujfalusi was sent off.
Muntari added the second goal in the 82nd minute.
“It’s fantastic. We showed we can do it,” Appiah said.
“I thank the Ghanians for their massive support and the Germans, who were shouting ‘Ghana, Ghana.’ I couldn’t believe it.
The Czechs were playing without strikers Jan Koller and Milan Baros, who are injured. Vratislav Lokvenc was the lone striker for the Czech Republic, but was quiet for most of the game and will be suspended for the third group match. The Czechs beat the United States 3-0 in their opening match.
Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic shook up his team’s defence following the 2-0 opening loss to Italy. He dropped regular Samuel Kuffour and Emmanuel Pappoe to a give place to Shilla Illiasu and a surprise start for untested Habib Mohamed.
“I’m very happy. We are still in the battle for qualification. I believe we can pass,” Dujkovic said. “We had many chances to score ... Cech made many saves. He saved the Czech Republic this afternoon.”
Dujkovic’s squad changes paid off as Ghana dominated the first half, with Appiah and Michael Essien repeatedly exposing weaknesses in the Czech defence.
Gyan nearly scored in the 32nd minute, with only Cech to beat at close range but the Modena striker shot straight at the goalkeeper.
“It was a good victory for the team, my country and Africa as a whole,” Essien said.
The Czechs squandered two first-half chances with Karel Poborsky shooting across the goal in the 29th minute. Tomas Rosicky failed to connect on an excellent cross from Poborsky.
Midfielder Pavel Nedved led a Czech rally in the second half and headed the ball into the Ghana goal in the 46th but he was offside.
In the 52nd, Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingston tipped an angled shot from Jaroslav Plasil over the bar.
But the Czechs had a setback when Ujfalusi brought down striker Matthew Amoah in the 64th minute and was sent off. Gyan failed to convert the penalty, hitting the post.
Cech did well to stop a shot at close range from Amoah in the 70th, and again from Muntari three minutes later.
With Essien and Appiah running the Czech defence ragged, Cech was in top form to stop a barrage of late Ghana strikes, with Gyan missing another a one-on-one in the 79th.
Czech Republic coach Bruckner said he is already looking forward to the next match against Italy.
“Ghana played very well, starting with their early goal. We were forced to play an open game which served Ghana,” Bruckner said.
“Everything will be decided in the third game ... I have to do my job without feeling.” - Sapa
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