x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ghana v USA: Asamoah Gyan watch

Asamoah Gyan, the top goalscorer in the UAE for the past three seasons, certainly stood out in Ghana’s Group G opener in the Fifa World Cup. The prolific Al Ain striker, his country’s captain, entered Monday’s match against USA not only sporting the armband, but the No 3 — the number of his jersey — shaved into the side of his head.

Asamoah Gyan tussles with US defender Fabian Johnson. Carl de Souza / AFP Photo
Asamoah Gyan tussles with US defender Fabian Johnson. Carl de Souza / AFP Photo

Asamoah Gyan, the top goalscorer in the UAE for the past three seasons, certainly stood out in Ghana’s Group G opener in the Fifa World Cup. The prolific Al Ain striker, his country’s captain, entered Monday’s match against USA not only sporting the armband, but the No 3 — the number of his jersey — shaved into the side of his head. He is wearing one pink and one blue Puma boot, too.

But Gyan would leave Natal’s Estadio das Dunas with head bowed, after Ghana were dispatched 2-1. Gyan still played a prominent role, though:

Pre-match — Having arrived at the stadium, Gyan leads his teammates in song as they prepare for their most important match in almost four years. He is there, among s, armed with a drum and fine voice. Gyan, and Ghana, seem ready for the 2014 World Cup.

8 minutes — Ghana have been rocked by Clint Dempsey’s early goal, with the USA dominating proceedings. But Gyan offers some respite, getting forward down the right flank and sending a teasing cross to Andre Ayew. Tim Howard, the US goalkeeper, comes out to collect.

32 minutes — After a lull in the match, Gyan sparks to life when he picks up the ball just outside the US penalty area on the left-hand side. He lets fly with a stinging shot from around 20 yards, but Howard is equal to it and palms away.

38 minutes — Ghana have been enjoying a large spell of possession when Christian Atsu sends an cross towards the penalty spot. Gyan rises high to meet it, but can only direct a glancing header over the bar.

55 minutes — Sulley Muntari is leading Ghana’s fight back and crosses from the left to split the US’s central defensive partnership of John Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Gyan, unmarked, heads over from 12 yards.

58 minutes — The match has opened up, and Ghana nearly draw level when Gyan out-jumps Cameron on the edge of the box and flicks a header towards goal. The ball looks to be going wide, yet Howard is not sure, and tips it around the post.

64 minutes — Kevin Prince-Boateng, introduced as a substitute, does not take long to make an effect. He gets behind the US defence and sends a low pass into Gyan, who swivels about 14 yards out and fires a shot that deflects off Cameron and loops over the bar. Ghana growing in stature.

82 minutes — Searching for an equaliser, Ghana get the ball into Gyan on the left-hand side of the US area. Facing away from goal, the striker back-heels the ball into the path of the onrushing Ayew, who slots past Howard. The finish was cool, but Gyan’s assist even better.

86 minutes — As Ghana appear most likely to snatch the points, USA hit them with a sucker punch. Gyan attempts to clear a corner from the right, but the ball is too high and Brooks rises highest to head down past Adam Larsen Kwarasey. The US have the winner.

90 minutes — The full-time whistle blows, and as USA celebrate a precious opening victory, Gyan makes his way around the pitch the congratulate opponents and console teammates. Understandably, he looks upset. He exchanges a handshake with Michael Essien, but few words are required. As captain, Gyan must pick up his colleagues before Saturday’s match with Germany.

jmcauley@thenational.ae