Ghana beat US, book berth in last 16
Nuremberg, June 23 (DPA) Ghana beat US 2-1 Thursday to secure qualification to the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup, thanks to goals from Haminu Dramani and a Stephen Appiah penalty.
The Americans equalised Dramani's effort through Clint Dempsey but found no way back from Appiah's spot-kick on the stroke of half time and go home with just a point from their three games.
Things started badly for Ghana when star player Michael Essien was booked in the sixth minute for a foul on Claudio Reyna ruling him out of the Africans' next game.
Moments later he wasted his team's first real chance shooting well wide when set up by Appiah, but in the 22nd minute he was celebrating Ghana's first goal.
Dramani dispossessed Reyna and shot past Kasy Keller to send the Ghana fans inside the Franken-Stadion into raptures. Reyna was stretchered off as a result of Dramani's challenge.
Reyna recovered and the US nearly drew level in the 35th minute when Brian McBride nodded down for Landon Donovan, but he blazed wide from just inside the box.
Two minutes before the break the US were level when Clint Dempsey rifled Derek Boatend's through ball past Richard Kingston. But the lead was short lived.
Razak Pimpong was pushed in the penalty area by Oguchi Onyewu and Stephen Appiah scored the penalty. It was the Fenerbahce midfielder's 12th goal in 45 starts for his country and it meant Ghana went in 2-1 at half-time.
With the Czechs losing against Italy, the African World Cup debutants kicked-off the second half knowing they were just 45 minutes from the last 16.
In the 57th minute John Mensah almost put the victory and their qualification beyond all doubt but just failed to get his head to a cross. But in the second half the Americans looked sharper.
Brian McBride hit a post with a header from an Eddie Lewis cross in the 67th minute and then Oguchi Onyewu powered a header over the bar from a Landon Donovan corner.
Ghana weathered the storm and held on for the victory. There were wild celebrations and a few prayers as players tore off their shirts or dropped to their knees.
They had bounced back from losing their first game against group winners Italy and progressed to the last 16.