England v Ghana
29 Mar 2011 - 8:00 PM
A fine last-gasp goal from World Cup hero Asamoah Gyan rescued a draw for Ghana, after a lively and entertaining game at Wembley.
It had looked as though it would be England’s night until Gyan’s stoppage time leveller, after Andy Carroll had shot the Three Lions ahead in the first-half in only his second England game.
But Fabio Capello’s men couldn’t see the game out and the Black Stars, backed by a record number of away supporters at Wembley, sealed a deserved draw when the Sunderland man stroked home in the 91st minute.
It was a game played in a decent spirit and competitive throughout and the scoreline was perhaps a fair reflection of the match with England enjoying the better of the first half before Ghana improved no end after the break to leave their fans in jubilant mood at the final whistle.
Despite England’s bright start, it was Ghana who really should have been ahead after just seven minutes when Kwadwo Asamoah split the defence with a crisp ball through to Dominic Adiyiah who raced clear on goal. He really looked the favourite to open the scoring as he broke into the box but, fortunately for England, Joe Hart was sharp enough to make a good save with his legs before gathering to the safety of his hands.
In response, England had two good opportunities themselves within the space of a minute to show for their superior possession. Firstly, Ashley Young fired just over the bar after being set up by Carroll, before James Milner played a fine pass through for Stewart Downing moments later. The Aston Villa man cut in from the right at full pace, but shot well over the bar with just Richard Kingson to beat.
Kingson then pulled off a magnificent save to deny Young, who lined up and then executed a shot at goal from just outside the area in the 15th minute. It was heading for the top corner, but the Blackpool ‘keeper touched the ball over at full stretch.
The Ghanaian defence were certainly leaving plenty of room behind them and it was this space which England had been looking to exploit since the first whistle. It almost paid dividends in the 24th minute too, when Downing cleverly reversed a pass for Milner on the right and when he delivered a perfect centre, it looked as though Young was odds-on to score from only a matter of yards. However, at full stretch, he could only lift his effort onto the cross bar.
England were almost made to pay for that profligacy just a minute later, when Sulley Muntari delivered a free-kick to the far post for Adiyiah. The striker somehow stretched to get on the end of it and divert the ball towards goal, but Hart denied him for a second time with a super save at full stretch, somehow shifting his balance from one side to the other to readjust himself and turn it to safety.
The Three Lions finally took a deserved lead two minutes before the break, when Young chipped a ball to Downing in the area. His first touch ran loose, but rolled nicely into the path of Carroll who blasted home with his left-foot to give England the lead they should perhaps have already had.
Both teams made changes at the break, with Joleon Lescott introduced for England to replace Glen Johnson in defence and Phil Jagielka moving over to right-back.
It was Ghana who forced all of the pressing after the break though, cheered on by their sizeable and vocal support, and it took a fine block in the box from Gareth Barry to deflect a fierce shot from John Pantsil over the bar in the 57th minute.
With Jermain Defoe on to replace Carroll up front, there soon followed an England debut for Matt Jarvis who swapped places with Wilshere in midfield and became the first player from Wolverhampton Wanderers to play for England’s senior team since Steve Bull.
He was followed shortly by Danny Welbeck, who only joined up with the squad earlier in the day, when he came on for Young to support the attack.
The final say was left to Gyan though, whose late run across and into the area past Lescott ended with a low left-footer past Hart and into the bottom corner to leave Ghanaian voices sounding the loudest.