DOHA: Mohamed Kodos scored twice as Ghana beat South Korea 3-2 in a World Cup thriller on Monday to keep their World Cup hopes alive and leave Paulo Bento’s side facing an early exit.
Mohamed Salisou opened the scoring midway through the first half at Education City Stadium and Ajax midfielder Kudos doubled the Black Stars’ lead. But the Asian team, looking toothless in the first half, bounced back after the break, leveling the equalizer with a quick brace from striker Cho Goo-sung either side of the hour mark.
Ghana looked stunned as the Korean crowd celebrated wildly but put them back in front in the 68th minute when Kodos calmly finished at the back post after Inaki Williams failed to connect with a cross from the left. The result puts Ghana in second place in Group H, with three points.
Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, will get six points and qualify for the last 16 if they beat Uruguay in the first match in Qatar later. Despite their efforts, South Korea looks likely to exit the tournament in the group stage of the World Cup for the third time in a row.
The Asian side, captained by Son Heung-min, were quick to settle, forcing a series of corner kicks as they controlled the ball but were unable to create a shot on goal for the entire first half.
Son looked uncomfortable in the black face mask he was wearing after undergoing surgery on a facial injury he suffered while playing for Tottenham, and he was constantly re-adjusting it. Ghana, who lost their opening match 3-2 to Portugal, struggled to get a foothold in the match. But the game completely changed the complexion in the 24th minute when the fantastic Jordan Ayew, playing on the left flank for Ghana, swept in a cross after a free kick.
South Korea failed to clear the ball and Salisu finished off the Southampton centre-back with his left foot, sparking wild celebrations among Ghana’s red, white and green fans. The goal revived the African nation, a quarter-finalist in 2010, as South Korea struggled to deal with their physicality and direct approach.
Now playing with flair and confidence, Ghana stepped forward and doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Kodos headed home Jordan Ayew’s cross from the left.
Captain Andre Ayew – Jordan’s brother – called his men into a mass huddle on the pitch and doused the players with machine guns before leaving to pick their beak at half-time.
Finally, the Koreans made a goal on goal in the 53rd minute, when goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi blocked a header from Cho. But the Korean found the net just minutes later, heading in a cross from substitute Lee Kang-in that Bento had just fired in.
They restored parity just three minutes later when Cho headed in Kim Jin-su’s ball from the left, sparking raving scenes among the Korean fans. Ghana were teetering now but they regained their lead midway through the second half through Kodos. South Korea is back again. Zigi had to fend off a scramble to deflect a free kick while Salisu deflected it off the line.