By Ajay Majumder
NEW DELHI: USA managed to squeeze past Ghana by a solitary goal victory in their second Group A encounter of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 at JLN Stadium in Delhi.
The all-important goal came in the 75th minute through substitute Ayo Akinola, which ultimately turned out to be the match winner and helped USA to consolidate their position at the top of the Group A standings with 6 points from two games.
The first-half was characterized by a lack of goal scoring opportunities from both sides. In the infant stages of the game, USA had shown promise with some impressive passes, but when they resorted to long balls, Ghana dealt with them with confidence.
Ghana started the match with a lot of intensity compared to their opponents. Ghana had the first chance to take the lead in the 10th minute when skipper Eric Ayiah attempted a long range shot which was denied by the crossbar.
Around the 15th minute mark Abdul Yusif tried his luck from a free-kick but the striker directed his effort off the target.
Meanwhile, USA also created some good moves in patches. The strike pair of Josh Sargent and Tim Weah made some attempts on the Ghana goal but never really get a grip on proceedings as their moves fizzled once they reach near the rival box.
USA had the only scoring opportunity of the first-half through Andrew Carleton whose attempted long-ranger missed the target by a few inches in the 37th minute.
Thereafter, both sides engaged in an end-to-end battle but could not break the deadlock as the first session ended scoreless.
The North American nation looked better in the second half, when Akinola entered the field in the 63rd minute replacing Weah. The move had an immediate impact as USA suddenly started to look much more purposeful.
USA’s persistence finally paid off as they pulled ahead in the 75th minute when Akinola slotted the opener after being set up by Blaine Ferri.
In the final quarter, Ghana tried hard for the equalizer but thanks to keeper Justin Garce, who pulled off some brilliant saves, USA managed to hold onto their slender advantage and walked out with all three points.
Photo Credits: FIFA