Ghana bowed out of the World Cup in the most heartbreaking circumstances in one of the most amazing finishes to a match at the World Cup finals.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez had used his hands to keep out a header in the last minute of
extra-time but his red card will be no solace to the Black Stars after Asamoah
Gyan's spot-kick hit the bar and Uruguay triumphed in the shoot-out.
Soccer City was deathly silent as Ghana players collapsed in tears, while
Uruguay celebrated their first semi-final appearance for 40 years, in which they will play
The South Americans' goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was the hero, saving twice
from John Mensah, the Sunderland centre-back, and Dominic Adiyiah, but there was
a nasty taste left in the mouth as Suarez was carried shoulder high by his
Sulley Muntari, almost sent home earlier on in the tournament after a bust up
with Ghana's Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, had given his side the lead before
Diego Forlan equalised with a viciously-swerving free-kick for his third goal of
Ghana carried the hopes of the continent with them, and especially South
Africans, in their quest to become the first African country to qualify for the
Perhaps it was the burden of expectation, but Ghana looked nervous from the
start while Uruguay, and Suarez in particular, emanated menace.
It was the Ajax striker who first threatened, sweeping past Isaac Vorsah and
firing in a shot that Richard Kingson managed to parry.
Forlan's dead-ball expertise was also causing Ghana problems and his corner
deflected off Mensah's back and Kingson made a reaction save.
Kingson continued his superb form this tournament with a stunning save to tip
over from Suarez.
Ghana had done virtually nothing in reply when, inspired by Kevin-Prince
Boateng, they suddenly began to play.
Two great chances came in as many minutes as Vorsah planted a header from
Muntari's corner just past the angle and then Gyan was inches wide after
brilliant work by Boateng.
Then the German-born midfielder nearly conjured up a spectacular opener with an overhead kick before Muntari struck in first-half injury time.
Muntari hit a speculative shot
from 30 yards out, Gyan ducked and Muslera was caught
flat-footed as the ball sneaked into the corner.
The goal made for an open second half with Uruguay having to force the game,
and Uruguay claimed a penalty when Edinson Cavani went down under
Vorsah's challenge but replays showed Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca
was spot on to wave the appeals away.
It look ominous for Ghana however when John Pantsil swept away Fucile's legs on
the edge of the box, and Forlan produced the perfect free-kick that went over
the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Kingson moved two steps to his right and was caught out of position as the ball flew past him.
Ghana did not let their heads drop however and Gyan brought a smart save out of
Muslera but Uruguay should have taken the lead when Forlan produced an
outstanding cross that cut out the entire defence. Suarez was in a perfect position to volley home at the far post but instead he rippled the
Boateng looked to be denied a legitimate penalty after a smart turn, with
Muntari wasting the chance that presented itself afterwards.
Kingson kept Ghana in it with a sharp near-post save from Suarez, and ensured
Gyan was thwarted by a last-ditch block by Andres Scotti as Ghana hunted for a
breakthrough then Pantsil was lucky not to be penalised after tangling with
Sebastian Eguren in his own area.
Ghana finished the stronger with Gyan and Boateng going close before Forlan
flashed a last chance wide.
An incredible last minute saw Suarez sent off for saving Adiyiah's header on
the line when palming the ball away with both his hands, and Gyan smashed the resulting penalty against the bar.
Then came the shoot-out, and terrible agony for Ghana.
Mensah was the true culprit of the two to miss for Ghana, taking just one step and sidefooting straight at Muslera.