Ghana coast past DR Congo and into Afcon semi-final

By Prince Dulzy

When it was needed most the Black Stars of Ghana did not disappoint. When Ghanaians were down that is when they lifted them up. When some section of fans had given up on them, they served a notice of their quality, a sign that this Black Stars team mean business and they have their eyes set on the Afcon trophy.

A strong, determined second half performance from Ghana was enough to beat a DR Congo side who enjoyed plenty of possession, especially in the first half and created enough chances to have put the game beyond the reach of Ghana in the first half.

READ MORE : Gyan stars as Ghana beat Mali to reach quarter-finals

But, wasted all the chances including Mbokani missing a sitter which cost them dearly, with Ghana progressing to the semis to play Cameroon on Thursday, thanks to goals from the Ayews (Jordan and Andre).

Jordan Ayew broke the deadlock in the second half when he held off two DR Congo defenders before curling the ball past Ley Matampi from the edge of the box. But just under five minutes Paul-José M’Poku equalised for the Congolese.

READ MORE: Afcon 2017: It is a must win game for Ghana against Uganda

West Ham’s Andre Ayew scored a winning penalty for Ghana, sending Matampi the wrong way to seal victory. The win means Ghana has made six consecutive Afcon semi-finals appearance and their bid to end an agonising 35-year wait for the title is still on course.

Dr Congo began the game well, and looked more dangerous and came close to an early lead after six minutes when Dieumerci Mbokani rounded Ghana keeper Razak Brimah, but he hit the post from a difficult angle.

READ MORE: Ghana Team Profile

Dr Congo were clearly dominating the pace of the game and looked very dangerous posing serious threats to Ghana defence who were still struggling to find their rhythm.

Lovely interplay between Mbokani and Junior Kabananga in the 25th minute, but the latter shot high over the bar.

Mbokani missed another great chance in the 36th minute when he received a ball in the box, but shot wide of the target.

The first half ended in a stalemate with the Congolese enjoying more of the ball, while Ghana struggled and could not create much, lacking ideas around the box. The absence of injured captain Asamoah Gyan weighed heavily on Ghana.

Subsequently, Ghana took over after the break , made some clever angles of passing and movement through midfield trio, Wakaso, Acquah and Partey which was too much for Dr Congo, who simply sat deep, hoping to survive and then break.

READ MORE: DR Congo Team Profile

Wakaso’s dangerous free-kick towards the middle of the goal got Matampi working in the 56th minute, and gradually Ghana developed their play.

The Black Stars showed more intent and continued pressing the Leopards defence and, after creating several chances, finally took the lead in the 63rd minute through Jordan Ayew. The Aston Villa striker beat two defenders before bending his strike from the edge of the box to beat Dr Congo goalkeeper Ley Matampi.

Paul-Jose M’Poku brought the Congolese to level five minutes later when he curled a sensational strike from 35-yards over Ghana goalkeeper Razak Brimah. DR Congo awarded a free-kick, quickly taken when they caught Ghana napping. The ball was passed to Mpoku who scored the screamer.

In the 77th minute Ghana was awarded a penalty when Congo DR defender Lomalisa Mutambala carelessly brought down Christian Atsu in the box and captain Andre Ayew made no mistake from 12 yards and sent Matampi the wrong way to secure the victory for Ghana. It was his second of the competition, all from the spot.

This was a lesson for DR Congo for their missed chances in the first half. Surely, Mbokani will be very disappointed for missing the sitter when the game was only 6 minutes old. Ghana will now take on Cameroon in the semi-final on Thursday.

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