Group E
Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana

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Ghana produced the first real shock at the 2006 World Cup when they beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in an enthralling encounter in Cologne.

The victory was fully deserved as Ghana simply overwhelmed their opponents and but for an inspired display by Petr Cech combined with some poor finishing, Ghana could well have administered a thrashing to the Czechs.

With Milan Baros is still unavailable because of a hamstring injury and Jan Koller missing until the knockout stages Karel Bruckner started with Lokvenc up front.

Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic dropped defender Samuel Kuffour, who made the error that led to Italy’s second goal on Monday, replacing him with the uncapped Habib Mohamed.

Left back Emmanuel Pappoe was also dropped with his place going to Shilla Illiasu, while Eric Addo was replaced by Otto Addo.

Ghana stunned the Czechs by taking a shock lead after just a minute. Stephen Appiah crossed from the left and Asamoah Gyan chested the ball down before hitting a low shot past Petr Cech.

For the Czech Republic, Pavel Nedved cleverly created space on the edge of the area before hitting a fierce shot that was easily saved by Richard Kingston in the Ghana goal. Nedved then set up Karel Poborsky, but midfielder hits a low shot a couple of feet wide of the far post.

Matthew Amoah had a great chance to extend Ghana’s lead but he blazed over the bar after initially doing well to turn his defender.

Gyan should have increased Ghana’s lead when he outmanoeuvred Jankulowski on the edge of the Czech box, but with only Cech to beat he shot weakly at the keeper. The striker, aware that the miss could prove costly, beat the ground with his fists in frustration.

Appiah also came close for Ghana when he dragged a shot from 20 yards just inches past the post.

At this stage Ghana were good value for their lead and the fancied Czech team were somewhat fortunate to be just one goal down as their opponents were creating chances at will.

As the half drew to a close, Rosicky twice came close for the Czech Republic, but the Ghanaians were throwing bodies in the way of any goal-bound efforts and had little difficulty maintaining their lead until the interval.

Nedved thought he had brought the Czechs back on level terms in the opening seconds of the second half when he headed past Kingston, but the Juventus midfielder had just strayed offside.

The Czechs striking crisis worsened when the cumbersome Lokvenc collected a booking early in the second half which keeps him out of the final group game against Italy. With Baros and Koller both injured, Bruckner has a real problem on his hands.

The pace and the strength of the Ghana forwards were causing no end problems for the Czech defence and goalscorer Gyan almost added a second when he broke quickly and produced a venomous shot that Cech did well to push round the post.

Meanwhile, Plasil drew a fine save from Kingston after a fine flowing move that cut the Ghanaian defence to shreds.

Ghana’s should have doubled their lead when they were awarded a penalty midway through the half. Ujfalusi clipped Amoah when he was about to shoot and the referee pointed straight to the spot. The defender was shown the red card, but from the resulting penalty Gyan’s firmly hit shot struck the post and rebounded to safety.

With the Czechs a man down but chasing an equaliser, the stage was set for a terrific closing 20 minutes. However, it was Ghana who looked the more dangerous team and Amoah was only prevented from adding a second by a fine block from Cech. The keeper again had to be at his best moments later to deny Muntari.

Rather than sit back and protect their lead Ghana continued to push forward in search of the second goal that would kill off the Czechs. Essien and Amoah both had great chances to seal the points but Cech was in tremendous form and was equal to everything the Ghanaians threw at him.

Eventually Ghana added a second when a neat passing reached Muntari and the substitute smashed a fierce strike past Cech. It was unfortunate on the Czech keeper who had almost single-handedly kept Ghana at bay, but it was just reward for a wonderful second half display by Ratomir Duvkovic’s side.

The Czech Republic were beginning to show their age as the game wore on and when they were reduced to ten men they simply had no answer to the power and pace of the African side.

The result throws the group wide open and on this form and bearing in mind the paucity of striking options available to Bruckner, one would have to fancy Ghana to progress to the last 16.

When an African side beats a leading European nation, there is a tendency to patronise the victors and highlight the deficiencies of the losers, but on this occasion, all that needs to be said is that the better team won.

Czech Republic: Cech, Grygera, Rozehnal, Ujfalusi, Jankulovski, Poborsky, Galasek, Rosicky, Plasil, Nedved, Lokvenc.

Subs used: Polak 46 (for Galasek), Stajner 55, (for Poborsky), Sionko 68 (for Plasil).

Bookings: Lokvenc 49.

Sent-off: Ujfalusi 65.

Ghana: Kingston, Pantsil, Mensah, Mohamed, Shilla, Essien, Appiah, Muntari, Otto Addo, Gyan, Amoah.

Subs used: Boateng 46 (for O Addo), E Addo 80 (for Amoah), Pimpong 85 (for Gyan).

Bookings: Addo 18, Essien 37, Gyan 66, Mohamed 93.

Referee: Horacio Marcelo Elizondo (Argentina).

Ghana: Gyan 2, Muntari 82.

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