Ghana fails to close the door on Klose and Germany in draw

Midfielder Sulley Muntari (Left) for Ghana battles with German midfielder Sami Khedira (Right) for possession of the ball on Saturday at Fortaleza.The Telegraph

Midfielder Sulley Muntari (Left) for Ghana battles with German midfielder Sami Khedira (Right) for possession of the ball on Saturday at Fortaleza.

Group G (Group of death)

Ghana comes up short of victory after Klose’s goal equalizes the game late to clinch a 2-2 draw.

Kevin Buckles Jr, Sports Editor

 

Four goals over a 20-minute span in the second half of Saturday afternoon’s match between Ghana and Germany ended in an electrifying 2-2 draw at the Estádio Castelão.

Ghana, facing elimination with a loss, came out of the gates with aggressive, combative play early, striking at goal when they could, and denying Germany any space to operate.

However, after being deadlocked at 0-0 at halftime, Germany began to show more life offensively in the second half, methodically and patiently waiting for the ideal opportunity to strike.

That moment happened in the 51 minute when Germany forward Thomas Müller, coming off of a hat trick performance against Portugal last week, delivered a well-placed cross into the penalty box, from the right of the field, to teammate Mario Götze.

The ball fell right in the vicinity of Götze, splitting the two Ghana defenders that were on either side of the 22 year-old forward, allowing him to cleanly finish the play with a header into the back of the net to give Germany a 1-0 lead.

For the second consecutive match however, Ghana midfielder Adre Ayew refused to let his team go down without a fight.

Channeling his late equalizing goal versus USA last week, Ayew scored an equalizing goal in the 54 minute, using his athletic 5’9” frame to leap over defenders to head a cross in the left corner of the net to tie the game at 1 apiece.

After Ayew’s goal, Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan looked to make sure that Germany would not strike first to break the tie and subsequently win the match, as USA did against Ghana in their first group stage match.

In the 63 minute, midfielder Sully Muntari dished a slicing pass into the penalty box, in between two defenders to a streaking Gyan, who had a free run at the goal to deliver a shot.

Gyan quickly gathered his steps as the space between him and the goalkeeper evaporated, and sent a bullet of a shot into the upper left side of the net, giving Ghana a shocking 2-1 lead.

By that point Germany head coach Joachim Löw had seen enough and decided to make some changes in his lineup; in came veteran midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Germany all-time leading World Cup scorer, Miroslav Klose, to close the game.

The move by Löw paid serious dividends just two minutes after the substitutions in the 71 minute when Germany lined up for a routine corner kick, hoping to tie the game in crunch time.

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos lined up for the corner and sent the ball sailing into the penalty box where defender Benedikt Höwedes timed his jump perfectly, heading the ball towards the far right post of the goal.

Miroslav Klose then added his name to the top of the history books when he tapped the ball from Höwedes into the net for the equalizing goal, securing the tie with Ghana, and tying him with Brazil’s Ronaldo for most career World Cup goals scored with 15.

The goal also made Klose just the second German footballer ever, after UweSeeler, to score in four different World Cups.

“Of course it’s something very special for me, there’s no doubt about that,” Klose told FIFA.com in an interview after the match. “But the most important thing is that I was able to help my team.”

Klose celebrated his critical and record-tying goal with a (failed) front flip, and exuberance of a man half of his 36 years of age.

“Inside he’s incredibly happy,” Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff told FIFA.com after the game. “You could see that by the way he celebrated the goal. It was also an important one for us, which makes the whole thing that much nicer.”

Had it not been for Germany coach Löw making the adjustment to bring in Klose in the 69 minute, Klose would not have had his moment along with the team clinching a tie with Ghana and the outcome could have been totally different.

“I think [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Miroslav] Klose breathed new life into the game; [Sami] Khedira and [Mario] Götze were on their last legs,” Löw said post-game to FIFA.com. “It was great that Miro got the goal.”

As for Ghana, Klose’s goal was a devastating blow for them trying to not only revive their chances of advancing past the group stage, but to re-boost their morale by defeating one of the clear favorites to win the entire World Cup.

“Germany are one of the best teams in the world and we gave it our all,” AkwasiAppiah told FIFA.com post-game. “We had some chances but unfortunately if you don’t take them against big teams then you don’t end up winning… it won’t be easy to reach the Round of 16 because we’ve only got one point. There are still a few games left to play in our group and although it’ll be tough, it is possible.”

Ghana will still be seeking their first win of this year’s tournament Thursday afternoon at Estádio Nacional against a vulnerable Portugal team, in hopes that they can still advance to the round of 16.

Germany will also wrap up group play Thursday, facing off against USA at Arena Pernambuco.

Highlights to this match can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1900738, video provided by ESPN FC.

 

sports@lavalleystar.com

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