Aliyu Adekunle with agency report
Ghana has taken it pound of flesh as it’s ten-man Ghana show might at the FIFA U-20 World Cup by defeating Brazil in a sudden death penalty shoot-out after the two teams failed to break the deadlock in 120 minutes of football.
The African and South American champions, who had not lost a game during the competition, keep that proud record intact, but at the end of the day, it was the Black Satellites, who followed in the footsteps of Argentina, victors at Canada 2007, in lifting the famous trophy.
Brazil had the better of the early stages and went agonisingly close to taking the lead early on when Giuliano’s free-kick was put into the box and Alex Teixeira was inches away from connecting with a header. Giuliano prompted A SeleÃ§Ã£o once again, playing the ball to Paulo Henrique on the left who crossed for Alan Kardec, but his volley was wide.
Douglas stung the hands of the goalkeeper with a shot from distance, but the major talking point of the first half came in the 37th minute when David Addo was given a straight red card for a foul on Alex Teixeira, after the latter was breaking quickly on the counter attack. While the Belgian believed Addo to be the last man, the Africans protested that both Jonathan Mensah and David Addy had tracked back to cover.
Ghana, who boasted the tournament’s most prolific strikeforce in Dominic Adiyiah and Ransford Osei failed to muster a single shot on goal in a stop-start opening 45 minutes, punctuated by no fewer than 17 free-kicks, yet this was not the bruising encounter those statistics may suggest.
Abeiku Quansah had a goalbound shot saved four minutes after the break, but it was a routine stop for Rafael as Brazil did most of the pressing. Alex Teixeira should have done better, but headed wide from Diogo’s centre and Alan Kardec had a golden opportunity, but headed straight at Daniel Agyei from Souza’s cross.
As the midway point to the second half approached, Ghana had more possession, but still Brazil looked the more dangerous. Rafael Toloi slipped a perfectly-weighted pass for Alan Kardec to latch on to, but he fired wildly into the side netting. The No9 was guilty of missing yet another chance seconds later when he planted a free header from Douglas Costa’s cross over the crossbar.
There was no doubt who the 67,814 in the stadium were supporting, as there was a tremendous roar from the home fans whenever their fellow Africans crossed the halfway line and the noise levels increased further when Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu’s deflected shot forced Rafael to make a fine, low save to his right.
As the half wore on, the Black Satellites seemed to increasingly get into their rhythm of playing with ten men and their attacking forays became more and more regular, while at the back they defended with tremendous spirit. They earned the right to take the tie into extra time, but there was still drama to come in the latter stages of the 90 when Andre Ayew and Rafael Toloi clashed for the ball, the latter requiring serious treatment.
With Rogerio having made all three of his substitutions, there was a distinct possibility that Brazil would have been forced to play extra time with ten men. Yet despite running with a noticeable limp, the defender continued heroically to maintain the numerical advantage for his team.
The South Americans had a glorious chance to take the lead six minutes into extra time, but Agyei pulled off a world-class save to deny Maicon, who still had his hands cupped to his mouth in disbelief for a full minute afterwards.
Agyei frustrated Wellington Junior in the second period of extra time, with a smart stop at his near post, but with some players having played 11 and a half hours during this competition, the pace of the game decreased – and the game limped into a penalty shoot-out.
That is when the fireworks began. First, Alan Kardec and Ayew and Giuliano and Inkoom traded successful penalties, but Brazil got the first advantage after seeing Douglas Costa score and Jonathan Mensah miss. Souza then saw his penalty saved, but Bright Addae failed to reduce the deficit when his strike from 12 yards was comfortably claimed by Rafael.
That left Maicon with the chance of winning it for Brazil, but he blasted the chance high over the bar. Adiyiah kept his cool to take the shoot-out into sudden death. Then Agyei denied Alex Teixeira before Agyemang-Badu made the victory certain with the decisive spot-kick.