Ghana failed to make an unprecedented African achievement at the World Cup after losing to Uruguay 4-2 on penalties after a dramatic quarter-final clash ended in a 1-1 draw on Friday.
The Black Stars were on the verge of becoming the first African team to reach the semi finals after they were awarded a penalty in the last minute of extra time.
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was sent off after stopping a goal-bound header with his hands, giving Ghana a golden chance to settle the tie in their favor before the heartbreaking penalties.
Their top scorer Asamoah Gyan stepped up but saw his shot strike the bar to stir an emotional reaction from Suarez, who erupted in ecstasy outside the pitch after his handball proved fruitful.
In the shootout, Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera saved two efforts from John Mensah and Dominic Adiyah.
Sebastian Abreu converted the decisive spot kick with a delicate chip to help Uruguay book a last-four berth for the first time since 1970 and set up a meeting with Holland.
In the normal time, Sulley Muntari, returning to Ghana’s starting line up after resolving his differences with coach Milovan Rajevac, gave his side the lead just before the break.
Diego Forlan, who was voted man of the match, brought Uruguay level ten minutes after the restart.
Video / Highlights:
Penalty shots VIDEO
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Uruguay laid siege to Ghana’s area in the early stages but their efforts were thwarted by Ghana’s steadfast defense.
They created one genuine opportunity in the first half but Ghana keeper Richard Kingson was on full alert to deny the South Americans.
In the 26th minute, a throw-in evaded Isaac Vorsah and found in-form striker Suarez, whose powerful shot from inside the area was tipped over by Kingson.
Ghana then took their turn, thanks to the commanding presence of midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, and wasted two clear-cut chances in quick succession.
Vorsah rose unmarked but his header missed the target after a right-wing cross in the 30th minute.
One minute later, the lively Boateng picked out Gyan with a low cross but the striker’s first-time shot went just wide of the post.
Muntari made amends just before the half-time whistle when his swerving shot from 30 yards deceived Muslera and went into the corner of the net.
Kingson played an instrumental role in helping Ghana reach the quarter-final stage and produced another fine display in the first half against Uruguay.
However, he looked shaky in the second period, committing a couple of mistakes that allowed Uruguay to equalize and come close to going ahead.
Forlan leveled the score in the 55th minute when he curled a free-kick over the wall and beyond the despairing reach of Kingson, who should have done better to block a shot which did not seem that harmful.
Eight minutes later, a Forlan cross sailed above Kingson’s head and found the unmarked Suarez at the far post but the Ajax Amsterdam man hit the side netting with the goal at his mercy.
Neither side managed to score a decisive goal as the match went into extra time which witnessed dramatic and breathtaking moments near the end.
Ghana were given a penalty after Suarez handled on the line to keep out a header from substitute Adiyah.
Gyan’s drive was denied by the bar as Ghana eventually paid for his miss to exit the World Cup, albeit with heads held high.