Ghana falls to Uruguay in penalties
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
Uruguay’ goalkeeper Fernando Muslera saves the penalty kick from Ghana Dominic Adiyiah (left) during the penalty shoot out at the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on July 2, 2010. (DYLAN MARTINEZ/Reuters)
JOHANNESBURG --It was the kind of drama not yet seen at this World Cup.
It was the kind of ending that had to be seen to be believed.
It was the kind of letdown teams take years to get over.
Ghana was the width of a crossbar from making soccer history.
Instead, it have to live with the vision of its appointment with history bouncing harmlessly off the crossbar.
In the end, Uruguay held its nerve defeating Ghana 2-1 on penalty kicks on Friday.
Sebastian Abreu buried the fifth and last penalty kick to give Uruguay a berth in the semifinal.
Uruguay outscored Ghana 4-2 in penalties, ending Ghana's bid to become the first African nation to make it to the semifinals.
It was wild and unbridled.
With the eyes of Africa on them, the Black Stars played well and probably deserved to come away with a win.
But with the scored tied 1-1 and almost no time left in the game, storybook became reality.
The Black Stars pushed for a win. From a scramble in front, Stephen Appiah had the empty net and wrapped the ball off the legs of striker Luis Suarez.
It bounced up to Dominic Adiyiah and his header was directed into the net when Suarez kept the ball out with his hand.
It earned Suarez a red card and gave the Black Stars a penalty.
There was bedlam on the pitch.
With a goal, Asamoah Gyan would move Ghana into the semifinal and a spot in history.
His shot was high and bounced off the crossbar.
Ghana was stunned. Uruguay could not believe it had been handed a reprieve.
Suarez, who was headed to the dressing room, looked over his shoulder to see Gyan missed the penalty.
Suarez' celebration was befitting someone who had just scored winner.
In the end, that's exactly what he did.
It would come down to nerve-wracking kicks from the penalty spot.
Fernando Muslera, in the Uruguay net, would stop John Mensah and Adiyiah.
Sebastian Abreau, with a cheeky chip, would score Uruguay's last penalty to give the South American's the victory.
It was a heart-wrenching defeat for the African team and for most of the 80,000 plus who attended the game.
"I think we had more opportunities than our opponents, but that's football," Ghana manager Milovan Rajevac said. "We really had good support and it would have been a fairy-tale."
It was a crushing defeat for Ghana.
Gyan, who missed the penalty at the end, was inconsolable as he was helped off the turf at the end of the game.
For Uruguay, it is the first time in 40 years it has made it to the semifinals.
"To be among the four best (teams) in the world, there are no words for that," Uruguay striker Diego Forlans said. "We felt we were going to faint with each penalty."
It was the second time in succession that Ghana had gone to extra time. It made it into the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over the United States.
It has matched the feat of Nigeria and the Cameroon by going as far as any African team in the World Cup.
It took them 15 minutes or so to shed their nerves but when they did, the Ghanaians played very well.
They took the lead thanks to Sulley Muntari.
The goaltender Richard Kingson made a mistake on a Diego Forlan free kick to make it 1-1, setting the stage for the fireworks.
"The whole of Africa supported us," Rajevac said. "We didn't deserve to lose this way."
Uruguay will now play the Netherlands in a semifinal.