New Delhi, October 9 (IANS): The United States got the better of Ghana 1-0 to solidify their position at the top of Group A in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.
Substitute forward Ayo Akinola’s 75th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides as Ghana failed to score from many opportunities.
With this win, the US have six points from two games, while Ghana remain second with three points from two games.
It was a match between teams who had won their respective campaign openers, with Ghana getting the better of Colombia and the US prevailing over hosts India.
Ghana started well, using their pacy flank players to the maximum effect. But they were not able to create a proper goal-scoring opportunity.
The US absorbed the pressure and had their first shot on target in the 16th minute when Blaine Ferri crossed from the right but striker Josh Sargent’s header was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Daniad Ibrahim.
From this point, the US enjoyed a good spell of around 15 minutes but Ghana’s defence stood tall. Sargent pressed high, winning a couple of one-on-one battles but the Americans couldn’t send their attackers in numbers to get the deserving result.
The battle was mostly restricted to midfield as both the teams failed to penetrate the defences. The US enjoyed a better share of the ball but that didn’t transform into the right moment of scoring.
Ghana, having come unscathed through the difficult moments, seemed to have stored their energy for the final stretch of the first 45 minutes of play.
They produced two good chances. The first one came in the 34th minute when left winger Sadiq Ibrahim shot at goalkeeper Justin Garces. The ball wobbled out of the gloves but captain Eric Ayiah was slow to react.
Five minutes later, Ayiah had beaten onrushing goalkeeper Justin Garces after taking advantage of a through ball from Isaac Gyamfi but the Ghana captain slipped inside the opponents box before the US defenders cleared it away.
Ghana started the second half in a similar fashion, going for an all out attack on the US box. Two minutes into the second half, Ghana came close to breaking the deadlock when Sadiq’s right-footed strike from close range was blocked by a diving Garces.
Ghana again came close to scoring when Gyamfi’s powerful left-footed drive went inches above the left post.
With Ghana failing to score from these opportunities, the US slowly started to grow in confidence in the second half. They controlled the midfield well.
They persisted in attacking the Ghana defence and the latter succumbed. Akinola, from the right, held off defenders Gideon Mensah and Rashid Al Hassan inside the box to score past goalkeeper Daniad Ibrahim in the 75th minute.
Ghana made some desperate attempts to at least secure a draw. They had a couple of late chances. Emmanuel Toku hit the side netting on the right but eventually the US managed to hold on to their slim one-goal advantage.