We knew Ghana was capable of the dramatic, but this is just foolish.
In the U-20 World Cup round of 16, Ghana scored two goals in the final 11 minutes to shock Portugal, 3-2. But the Black Stars outdid themselves today against Chile in a seven-goal thriller. Ghana, though they were more aggressive and looked more dangerous throughout the game, needed a 71st-minute Ebenezer Assifuah goal to claw back to 2-2, and 19 minutes later, the sides were headed to 30 minutes of extra time. That's when shit got hectic.
Eight minutes into extra time, Chile pulled ahead again, 3-2, when forward Angelo Henriquez timed a perfect curling run into the box and headed a ball played over the top of the Ghana defense past keeper Eric Antwi. It was a great two-man goal, and with Chile on top, Ghana had only 22 minutes to equalize and send the match to penalties. It only took them 15.
By the 113th minute, Ghana were throwing bodies forward to attack, though Chile didn't seem like they'd break until a deflection at the top of the box wrong-footed a defender and left Ghana with numbers in the 18. Black Stars playmaker Clifford Aboagye collected the ball, drew the last defender, and slotted a pass right to Salifa Seidu, who powered the chance low past Darío Melo for the goal to tie the match, 3-3.
The two sides were virtually a lock to go to penalties, if only because almost everyone goes to penalties at this stage of the match. And it looked like they were, after just one minute had been added to the end. But in the 121st minute—30 seconds into injury time of extra time—Frank Acheampong received a pass on the right sideline, beat two Chilean defenders with an ingenius, cutting run to the end line, and looped what amounted to an alley-oop into the middle of the 18-yard-box. Assifuah was waiting, and outjumped a teammate to direct a pathetic bouncing header onto goal.
Two Chilean defenders shifted over to comfortably block the shot, and both missed the entire ball. It was unclear whether it was a communication error or a brief hesitation that usually comes with seeing a friendly jersey out of the corner of your eye, but they somehow fucked it up, and the ball lazily slid past them both. The goalkeeper was a foot away from the ball, but he was blinded by his defenders. So Assifuah's pathetic header skipped into the back of the net, and Ghana was through to the semifinal.
The Black Stars, who actually became the first African team to win the tournament in 2009, keep getting all the breaks, and are just two matches away from repeating as U-20 world champions. They play France on Wednesday. And as for Chile...