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Ghana advance to second round at WC

Creating history the African squad reached the second round at World Cup, beating USA 2-1.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2006 23:13 IST

Ghana reached the second round at the World Cup in its first appearance, beating the United States 2-1 on Thursday in Group E.

Captain Stephen Appiah scored the winning goal, converting a penalty kick in the second minute of first-half injury time after United States defender Oguchi Onyewu was whistled for a foul in the penalty area.

"This is a historic moment for us," Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic said. "We are very happy. It was a very nervous event for us.

Haminu Draman put the African team ahead in the 22nd minute, breaking in alone on goalkeeper Kasey Keller after colliding with Claudio Reyna, who crumpled to the ground in pain.

The United States, which has never won a World Cup game in which it trailed, equalized when Clint Dempsey scored in the 43rd minute. Brian McBride nearly leveled again in the 66th, but his diving header inside the box hit the near post.

A minute later, Onyewu sent a header off Landon Donovan's corner kick over the crossbar. In order to advance, the Americans needed a victory and some help.

They got the needed assistance when Italy defeated the Czech Republic 2-0 in Hamburg. But the United States didn't come through and finished the tournament with one point - its first ever in a World Cup played in Europe.

Italy won Group E with seven points and Ghana advanced with six points. The Black Stars received a pre-game visit from Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, Africa's player of the year.

Ghana is the first African team to advance in past the first round in this year's tournament. Tunisia, which plays Ukraine on Friday, also has a chance. Angola, Ivory Coast and Togo have been eliminated.

Draman scored after Dempsey played a back pass to Reyna, and the US captain collided with the Ghanaian, left knee to left knee.

As Reyna fell, Draman picked up the ball and came in one on one against Keller, putting the ball onto his right foot and sending it into the corner of the net from about 12 meters, over the diving goalkeeper.

Reyna was taken off the field on a stretcher, grimacing, but returned in the 26th minute, just about the time Italy went ahead of the Czechs. Still looking pained, he was replaced by Ben Olsen in the 40th minute and went to the bench where the knee was wrapped.

Donovan had a great chance to equalize in the 35th, when he had an open shot, but he got under the ball and his volley attempt went way high.

Dempsey then leveled after DaMarcus Beasley, along the left flank just past midfield, battled Derek Boateng and John Pantsil. Beasley stole the ball from Pantsil and made a left-footed cross in front of the goal.

Racing ahead of Habib Mohamed, Dempsey one-timed the ball with his right foot from about 12 meters - the first goal by a US player in the World Cup in 338 minutes. Dempsey did his rap dance as Americans celebrated - it was just their third shot on goal in the tournament.

One minute into injury time, Onyewu pushed down Razak Pimpong in the penalty area battling for a header, and German referee Markus Merk immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Keller dived left, but Appiah put the ball high to the goalkeeper's right to put Ghana in the lead.