Ghana beat 10-man Serbia
Ghana snatched a late 1-0 win over 10-man Serbia in Pretoria after Asamoah Gyan scored from the penalty spot.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 13/06/10 6:49pm
Ghana snatched a late 1-0 win over 10-man Serbia in Pretoria after Asamoah Gyan scored from the penalty spot in the closing stages.
Group D's opening game was on the whole a dour spectacle at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium and had looked to be petering out to a goalless draw.
However, things spiced up in the 74th minute when Aleksandar Lukovic was sent off for a second yellow card.
Serbia seemed to respond well to the loss, but disaster struck for the Europeans when substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic handled in the area.
Gyan stepped up to slam the ball home and give Ghana a crucial win, while Serbia will have to regroup for their next match.
The game nearly started with a bang when Marko Pantelic hit a stinging long-range shot that went narrowly wide.
Ghana then responded and Anthony Annan struck a volley at the other end, which also was not too far away from finding the net.
However, despite both sides looking threatening when coming forward, neither had a clinical edge in the final third and both goalkeepers had little to deal with before half-time.
Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng nearly provided a telling ball into the box from the left in the 21st minute, but Asamoah Gyan could not quite get enough on his header and it flashed wide.
And despite a curling free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov that whipped narrowly wide, it was Ghana who were asking the most questions on the counter-attack, although the final ball into the box was often left wanting.
However, it was African goalkeeper Richard Kingson who had the first effort to save in the 39th minute, and he was almost the third keeper in the tournament to make a blunder as he spilled a Dejan Stankovic effort, but claimed it on the second attempt.
After the break it was Serbia who created the first half-chance, but Milan Jovanovic sliced his shot wide from inside the box on the left after a good jinking run.
But Ghana created an excellent opportunity when Prince Tagoe chipped in a pin-point cross to the back post only for Ayew to head wide when he should have hit the target in the 54th minute.
Ayew then drove forward and hit a shot over the bar, before Pantelic pulled a ball back from the by-line at the other end that could not find a team-mate.
Minutes later Pantelic put a great cross into the back post but Zigic, who has signed for Birmingham for a reported £6million, could not get decisive contact on it
Asamoah Gyan came closest though, when a header from a long throw clipped the outside of the post and went wide, before Tagoe fluffed a chance from another cross.
Things spiced up when Lukovic picked up a second booking but Serbia responded and Kingson had to palm away a Milos Krasic effort.
Ghana took the lead when Gyan slammed his penalty home after a needless handball from substitute Kuzmanovic.
The final minutes were frantic and while Serbia pressed for an equaliser, the Black Stars held on for a crucial three points and Gyan hit the post in the dying seconds.