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World Cup Diary

THE LAMBS GO TO SLAUGHTER (and they happen to be the Czechs)

GAME 25, GROUP E, JUNE 17, 2006 --COLOGNE
CZECH REPUBLIC 0, GHANA 2
FINAL

1... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL GHANA! IN THE FIRST MINUTE! What a stunner! Asamoya Gyan took a quick pass from midfield, he surprised the entire Czech line from inside the penalty arct, swiveled, shot, and scored on a ball that grazed grass and keeper to find the back of the net! who could have scored a faster goal than the Czechs against the Yanks? Ghana! I may have to rethink the snide subhead I gave this match, although for now it works--if you assume that the Czechs are the lambs.

13... And Ghana keeps attacking! Appia just took a roomy shot on goal, just wide of the far post! Now the Americans have yet another team to worry about no matter how lucky they get with Italy.

16... The Americans must be watching this and thinking either that Ghana is stealing the show they hopped to put on, or that there is hope after all for lambs assumed headed for slaughter.

20... The Czechs still don't have their towering footing beneath them. They have themselves a free kick from far off, midway up the Ghana half, straight on goal... It skims the grass, dribbles out wide ...

22... Jqaroslav Plasil takes a shot from a desperate way off, wide of the Ghana goal. Ghana fires back with a nice breakaway but ends up mimmicking Plasil almost exactly.

The advantages of a Ghana win can't be overstated: Upsets like this are always great fun; an upset by an African upstart even more so; an upset that favors Team USA's fortunes, if Team USA can capitalize, well...

28... Ghana does well enough to block a threatening shot, but then clears it all the way to the Czech goal: a lost opportunity that leads to a Czech build all the way to the near edge of the box by Poborsky, who shoots it three inches past the far post.

29... Ghana's Amoa, inside the Czech box, turns 180 degrees to take the shot, but sends it high above goal. There's brimming blood in this Ghana side. (It really is unbearable to listen to ABC's commentators... why can't I find the BBC?)

Just found a good radio feed from Britain's Sun Newspapers: http://clients.mediaondemand.net/theSun/?Channel=1

Now it's the Czechs playing limpish football, clearing a ball in their half to the sideline, not doing anything when they do get the ball.

The pace has slowed, not helped by 18 fouls and a Ghana player just walked off the field.

The surprise of the game: Michael Essien has been very quiet (he was Rocket Man in Ghana's first game).

That's Ghana's goal-scorer today, Gyan...

44... Ghana just had another terrific chance inside the box, but Czech managed to keep it all to a fumble before clearing it and winning itself a corner. Poborsky takes it, cleared. Poborsky crosses it back in, and Kingston, who's played his goal perfectly, launches out for a grabbing save: we have one minute of injury time before the half. And there it is: amazingly, Ghana takes the lead to the locker room. Let's hope mthey don't keep it there.

Second Half...

Czech's Medved sends a header into net at the 46th minute's 46th second, but its disallowed: he was off-side by several strides.

48... The Czechs are battling for every ball so fiercely that it's as if they've agteed to go all out regardless of the risk of yellows, one of which just got slapped on Lokvenc, his second of the round, meaning he'll have to sit out the next game against Italy. One reason we may not be seeing Michael Essien much is that he's got himself a yellow already... AND GUYAN ALMOST GAVE GHANA A 2-0 LEAD BUT FOR THE GRACE OF A HAIL MARY SAVE!

53... Ghana have themselves a direct kick, 35 yards out. Essien took it, but it was blocked: Essien doesn't have that extra octane on his boot today. Ghana lost a good attack full of momentum to an off-side.

55.. Czech's Poborsky had been all over the ball, but he's out, the Czechs put together a full-line assult on the Ghanians, a cross, a miss, a Czech recoup, a shot, saved over the crossbar for a corner kick that results in nothing. Ghana on the ball. And they put together a full-line assult that caps into a terrific pass inside the box, but saved.

58... The tension in this game is terrific, the play is terrific, the outcome, for now, and for the US team, is terrific. But let's only look at it as a Ghanian performance from the gods (so far...) The Czech keeper just knocked down one of his own. He's limping up.

What?

IT'S A PENALTY SHOT FOR GHANA! WHAT???? A Czech player was just red-carded automatically for making contact with the ref... OH NOOOOOOOOOO! IT HOT THE POST! IT HIT THE POST! IT HIT THE POST!

Tell me now that this isn't the goal-post World Cup. This is what can give Czech the reversal they were looking for, though they don't deserve it by any means.

70... This has been an unbelievable performance by Ghana, a sub-par performance by Czech, it would be a shame for the game to change pace--or result: Ghana just put together another assault on the keeper, who smothers an attempt; and again copme Ghana, shot, saved, it bounces back in the box but there's no one there but Red Czechs to take it back, briefly: anad again Ghana attacks... kicked high.

Remember: Ghana has the one-man advantage, and making the best of it. Ghana have 14 shots, Czech just 10.

74... Terrible call by the ref, a great Ghana tackle on an onrushing Czech in the Ghana half, the Ghanian's boot never went for anything but the ball, and drew it out from under the Czech's attacker: Ghana's Boateng got a yellow for his great effort.

78... You have to give it to the Czech keeper Peter Cech: if the Czechs pull of something in the last 10 minutes, he'll have to be the man of the match for having kept his side in the game--and kept out about five, six attempts on goals that in lesser magnets would have been converted for goal.

81... Ten minutes left, assuming some injury time: Ghana is not laying back an inch. The attacks keep coming. But so do the Czech attacks, which are less organized, more desperate. A run on goal by Ghana is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL GHANA

GOOOOOOOOOOOAL GHANA!

And what a thing of beauty, a give and go between three Ghanians weaving and slicing their way into the box, then the twist and shot by Muntari, slammed against the roof of goal past a diving Cech, who really,. really had no chance. This is a wonderful goal to cap a wonderful game that has a claim on being the match of the tournament. And Ghana still attacking, still looking.

86... The Czechs are looking grim ...

Ghana had it 3-0 but for the attacker's decision to pass it one more time. The ball was in the net, the off-side flag was up.

The lambs did go to slaughter: it was Czech, reduced to bleets and airborne cleats.

And Ghana witha corner in injury time... no need to go on: this game is for World Cup history books, like Senegal's win over France: and a clean sheet for Ghana, too. Finally, we have some drama in this World Cup. Finally, an upset by way of a win, and not through silly or penalty goals. Ghana took this game deservedly.

AND RICHARD KINGSTON MAKES THE SAVE OF HIS LIFE ON A FREE KICK HEADED IN, AND ANOTHER FOLLOWING IT UP, AND THE WHISTLE BLOWS, AND WHAT A GREAT, GREAT GAME!

 

 

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