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Monday, June 14, 2010

Ghana score Africa's first World Cup win

African football scored a first World Cup success on day three of competition in South Africa as Ghana grabbed a late winner to beat Serbia 1-0 in Pretoria on Sunday.

Asamoah Gyan converted a penalty just six minutes from time for the victory after a needless handball in his own area by the Serbian substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic gave away the spot kick. On balance it was as much as the Black Stars deserved, proving the more enterprising of the teams in a match with limited chances.

Gyan, who missed a penalty at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, converted coolly for Ghana's winner, after earlier arguably coming closest to breaking the deadlock, heading a swiveling header against the outside of the Serbian post after an hour of the match at the Loftus Versfeld stadium. He also struck the post on the counter attack in the dying seconds of the game. Ghana had a one-man advantage in the last quarter-hour after a second caution for Aleksandar Lukovic saw the key Serbian defender sent off.

But instead of using that numerical superiority, the Ghanaians found themselves under pressure for the final exchanges, with goalkeeper Richard Kingson, who had little to do until then, denying Milos Krasic in the final 10 minutes and then seeing two more Serbian efforts narrowly miss the goal. That was until a turn of good fortune for the Black Stars, courtesy of Kuzmanovic, who went up to clear with his arm high and in a moment of madness handled the ball for an obvious penalty.

Ghana's win followed defeats for Algeria and Nigeria in the two previous matches featuring African sides and a draw for the South African hosts in the opening match on Friday. Cameroon are next to fly the continent's flag against Japan on Monday, while the Ivorians play Portugal on Tuesday.

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