Ghana are through to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations after they held on to a first-half lead to progress.

Striker Asamoah Gyan made a darting run to fire in a near-post header to put the Black Stars ahead after 21 minutes.

Solid performances from Ghana keeper Richard Kingson and his defence kept Nigeria from capitalising on some solid second-half pressure.

It will be Ghana’s first Nations Cup final appearance since 1992.

The result will put immense pressure on Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu – who was already receiving heavy criticism from Nigerian fans and media for what they regarded as poor performances earlier in the competition.

“My contract is until August,” Amodu said in the post-match press conference.

“If I’m still in charge up to the World Cup I will look at our deficiencies in this competition and look at areas of reinforcement.

“I don’t think we lost to a better side, we lost to a youthful and enterprising side.”

His Nigeria team passed well, but were unable to convert their dominance into goals.

After scoring, Ghana put men behind the ball, spending much of the second half with their backs to the wall.

Yet, while soaking up copious amounts of pressure, their organised defence made life extremely difficult for the Nigerians who were clearly lacking a cutting edge.

Ghanaian centre-half Isaac Vorsah found himself head-to-head with his Hoffenheim team-mate Chinedu Obasi – and the Ghanaian will have bragging rights when they return to Germany.

Black Star goalkeeper and captain Kingson made some key stops in both halves to deny Nigeria.

Kingson’s stand-out moment came as he made himself big to prevent Obafemi Martins from slotting home.

Martins had latched on to a deftly chipped through-ball from John Obi Mikel – who had an otherwise uninspiring game, like many of his team-mates.

Martins’ pace looked like it could cause trouble but with the Ghanaians defending deeply the Wolfsburg forward could not find sufficient space.

On the couple of occasions he made his pace count – in the 70th and 77th minute – he was too near the goalline, and too hurried on the ball, to craft a realistic goal-scoring opportunity.

The withdrawal of Osaze Odemwingie 20 minutes from time came as something of surprise, with the Lokomotiv Moscow striker being one of Super Eagles’ few genuine threats.

His replacement, Yakubu, almost made an immediate impact and perhaps should have scored when he connected with a drilled ball across the penalty area in the 76th minute.

Aside from the goal, the first semi-final largely lacked in quality in the final third.

The first-half winner came against the run of play.

Gyan lost the attention of his marker with a well-timed run to the near-post before meeting Kwadwo Asamoah’s whipped ball.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gyan said after the game.

“We are a young team and not many people gave us a chance of making the final.”

Gyan’s early goal, while it should have opened up the game, had the opposite effect – Ghana seemed more than happy to settle for a 1-0 lead.

They now take their place in the final on Sunday against either Algeria or Egypt.

Nigeria, meanwhile, have to settle for an attempt at third place on Saturday.

Ghana: Kingson, Inkoom, Vorsah, Addy, Sarpei (Rahim Ayew 53), Andre Ayew, Agyemang-Badu, Annan, Asamoah, Gyan (Amoah 84), Opoku (Draman 35).

Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Osei, Mensah, Essien, Narry, Addo, Adiyah, Afful, Adjei.

Booked: Draman, Annan, Inkoom, Kingson.

Goals: Gyan 21.

Nigeria: Enyeama, Mohammed (Odiah 80), Nwaneri, Shittu, Echiejile, Kaita, Mikel, Yussuf (Obinna 67), Odemwingie (Yakubu 70), Martins, Obasi.

Subs Not Used: Ejide, Yobo, Taiwo, Kanu, Olofinjana, Uche, Etuhu, Apam, Aiyenugbu.

Booked: Yussuf.

Att: 7,500

Ref: Daniel Bennet (South Africa).

Source: BBC


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