Mohammed Kudus double gives Black Stars victory: Ghana revived their hopes of reaching the World Cup knockout stages for only the second time with a thrilling Group H victory after a second-half fightback from South Korea.
The 2010 quarterfinalists impressed in an opening 3-2 defeat against Portugal and went in front in the 24th minute when defender Mohammed Salisu swept home Jordan Ayew’s curling free-kick.
Ghana had another 10 minutes later after Ayew whipped in another superb delivery from the left and the faintest of headers from Mohammed Kudus doubled the Black Stars’ lead.
South Korea, who finished fourth at the 2002 finals and began with a useful 0-0 draw against Uruguay, hit back with two headers from Cho Gue-sung in quick succession to draw level after the break.
But Ghana, the lowest-ranked side in the competition at 61st in the world, regained the lead in the 68th minute when Kudus side-footed home his second from Gideon Mensah’s cross.
Extended Highlight: Mohammed Kudus double gives Black Stars victory
Cho was on the hunt for a hat trick and nearly found it in stoppage time, aiming for Ati-Zigi’s near post, only for the Ghana stopper to punch it wide.
South Korea threw the kitchen sink at Ghana to try and salvage a draw but was ultimately unsuccessful and their hopes of reaching the last 16 hang in the balance.
They held on amid a late onslaught to earn a precious win ahead of a final group game against Uruguay, while South Korea coach Paulo Bento, who was red-carded after the final whistle, must pick his players up before facing Portugal on Friday.
Player ratings: South Korea 2-3 Ghana Mohammed Kudus double gives Black Stars victory
1. South Korea (4-2-3-1)
GK: Kim Seung-gyu – 4/10 – Had little command of his area and set up his box appallingly in the lead-up to Ghana’s opener, with South Korea’s line way too deep.
RB: Kim Moon-hwan – 6/10 – Provided support on the wing but couldn’t deal with the Ayew brothers until the second half.
CB: Kim Min-jae – 4/10 – Started after picking up a knock against Uruguay but looked off the pace, losing his runners and making strange decisions in possession.
CB: Kim Young-gwon – 4/10 – Completely flummoxed by Ghana’s aerial bombardment.
LB: Kim Jin-su – 8/10 – Powered up and down the left flank, having a bit more freedom when Son took more of a central role.
CM: Hwang In-beom – 6/10 – Enjoyed a real possession battle with Ghana’s imposing midfield trio, breaking up play and dictating South Korea’s attacks.
CM: Jung Woo-young – 5/10 – Worked ever so hard as always but was a bit rash.
RM: Kwon Chang-hoon – 5/10 – Tested Ghana early on but faded and was replaced by Lee.
AM: Jeong Woo-yeong – 4/10 – Started the game close to Cho before almost fading out of it.
LM: Son Heung-min – 6/10 – Ghana doubled and tripled up on him in the first half plenty, but were unable to pin him down when afforded a free role in the second. Completely swamped again in stoppage time, though.
CF: Cho Gue-sung – 9/10 – A proper centre forward’s performance. Ghana had no idea how to deal with him once quality crosses started coming in.
SUB: Na Sang-ho (46′ for Jeong) – 6/10
SUB: Lee Kang-in (57′ for Kwon) – 8/10
SUB: Hwang Ui-Jo (79′ for Jung) – 5/10
SUB: Kwon Kyung-won (90′ for Kim) – N/A
Manager: Paulo Bento – 6/10 – Atoned for his poor first-half organisation with changes to bring South Korea back into the game. Sent off after the final whistle for his protests to Anthony Taylor.
2. Ghana (4-3-3)
GK: Lawrence Ati-Zigi – 5/10 – Flung himself across his goal often failing to keep the ball out.
RB: Tariq Lamptey – 4/10 – After a decent first half, the Brighton made lost all composure after the break.
CB: Daniel Amartey – 5/10 – Booked early on for an aggressive off-ball foul. Generally haphazard.
CB: Mohammed Salisu – 6/10 – Wasn’t great defensively, but did score a goal, so, every cloud…
LB: Gideon Mensah – 6/10 – Like Lamptey let his standards slip a little after a great opening.
CM: Salis Abdul Samed – 7/10 – Stormed around midfield dutifully breaking up play.
CM: Thomas Partey – 6/10 – Broke up play and spread it in his own radius.
CM: Mohammed Kudus – 9/10 – The Ajax midfielder’s stock continues to rise with another impressive goal-scoring display on a global stage.
RW: Jordan Ayew – 8/10 – His excellent delivery was a huge reason why Ghana secured the points.
CF: Inaki Williams – 5/10 – Failed to assert his authority or even control a ball, and yet that led to Kudus’ second.
LW: Andre Ayew – 6/10 – Wasn’t as useful as his brother but put in a decent shift at least.
SUB: Kamaldeen Sulemana (79′ for A. Ayew) – 5/10
SUB: Denis Odoi (79′ for Lamptey) – 5/10
SUB: Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (79′ for J. Ayew) – 6/10
SUB: Alexander Dijku (83′ for Kudus) – 5/10
SUB: Baba Rahman (88′ for Mensah) – N/A
Manager: Otto Addo – 6/10 – Ghana were a menace whenever they attacked, but their defending needs improvement.