The Blacks Stars of Ghana were put in a buoyant mood to face Uruguay in their final group game after they subdued hard pressing South Korea at the Education City Stadium in Qatar.
Ghana had a dream start in the first half after going ahead with goals from Mohammed Salisu and Mohammed Kudus. But just when the Black Stars and their boisterous fans thought they the game all wrapped up, two stunning headers in three minutes from Cho Gue-sung, jolted the Ghanaians from their revelry in the 61th minute.
The pressure mounted on the Black Stars who know that only a win will guarantee their stay in the World Cup, however, Kudus, who had deftly headed in Jordan Ayew’s cross in the first half, added a final twist when he thumped in a third for Ghana to break South Korea’s hearts.
Chances continued to fall South Korea’s way as they searched for another equaliser but, despite 10 minutes of added time, Ghana held on.
There were emotional scenes at the final whistle as many South Korea players fell to the ground while manager Paulo Bento was sent off for arguing with English referee Anthony Taylor for not allowing a corner to be taken despite the 10 minutes having elapsed.
Ghana will now face Uruguay with all confidence and memories of the quarter-final game of the 2010 World Cup, where a Luis Squarez inspired denied the Blacks Stars the opportunity of being the first Africa country to reach the semi-final of the World Cup. Squarez blocked a goal bound shot to give his country the opportunity to drag the game into penalty shoot-out and at the end of the game, it seems his red card was worth the sacrifice.
With Portugal to come next for South Korea, this feels a significant defeat, while Ghana – unfortunate to lose against Portugal – will face Uruguay in good spirits in their final game.